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REGULATORS of NORTH CAROLINA 
Bassett. 






XI.-THE REGULATORS OF NORTH CAROLINA (1765-1771). 



By Prof. John S. Bassett, of Trinity College, North Carolina. 



The recent publication of The Colonial Records of North Caro- 
lina must lead to the rewriting of much of the State's colonial 
history. The several writers who, before the appearance of 
these volumes, have written on The War of the Regulation 
have been handicapped by having to use as sources of informa- 
tion narratives that have been prepared by one or the other of 
the parties to the struggle. They have not had access to the 
now published mass of documents, which, as might have been 
expected, throw new light on many features of the movement. 
The desire to use this light has inspired the present paper. It 

iThe Regulation is one of the best written ahout subjects of North 
Carolina history. Caruthers treats it extensively in his Life of Dr. David 
Caldwell (1842). He went carefully over the ground and obtained a great 
deal of his material from old men who had once been Regulators. He is 
entirely on the side of the Regulators. Caruthers also treats of the subject, 
but not extensively, in his Revolutionary Incidents (first series), pages 24 
et seq. Dr. F. L. Hawkes has a sketch in Cooke's Revolutionary History 
of North Carolina (1853), pages 13 et seq. It deals chiefly with Husband's 
Sermons to Asses. Jones treats the matter in his Defence of North Caro- 
lina (1834), pages 34-56. Wheeler publishes Husband's book under the 
heading of Orange County (see his History of North Carolina, Vol. II, 
pp. 301-331), and Martin and Williamson, in their histories, have treated 
it as fully as the nature of their works would admit. 

Dr. T. B. Kingsbury published several short articles on the subject in 
Our Living and Our Dead (see Vol. II, p. 434 ; Vol. Ill, pp. 39, 314, and 629). 
The subject is also treated in the North Carolina Journal of Education, 
October and November, 1859, and in Wiley's Sketch of North Carolina. 

All the above, except Martin and Williamson, are apologists of the Regu- 
lation. At first in the history of the State everyone seems to have fol- 
lowed the accounts of Tryon and his followers as set forth in these two 
histories. It was about the time that Jones's Defence was published that 
there came a change in sentiment. Since that time nearly everything 
written has discovered in the Regulation a worthy struggle for liberty. 

One book recently published, Colonel Waddell's Colonial Officer and His 
Times, is an exception to this rule. Writing from the standpoint of the 

o 



A 



142 AMERICAN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION. 

is believed that at least two new points in regard to the Regu- 
lation may now be taken as historical truth. 

(1) The Regulation was not attempted as a revolution. It 
was rather a peasants' rising, a popular upheaval. This is 
a chief new point which, it seems, a study of the records should 
reveal. A revolution involves a change of the form or prin- 
ciples of government. It is constitutional in its significance. 
A peasants' rising aims at a change of agents who administer, 
or of the manner of administering, affairs iinder~-principles or 
forms that remain intact. It is a matter of party, chiefly. A 
revolution may embrace a popular rising, and a popular rising- 
may run into, or in a manner partake of the nature of, a 
revolution ; but we may always find the general difference 
just mentioned. Could it have had any other fate than it did 
have, the Regulation might possibly have run into a revolu- 
tion ; but at the time when it was crushed it had not reached 
that stage. 

(2) Another fact that the records emphasize is this: The 
Regulation was not a religious movement. It was rather of an 
economic and political nature. It was not only not religious, 
but it had the opposition of at least four of the five leadiug 
denominations in the disaffected district. The Established 



biographer of one of the chief men who joined in suppressing the Regu- 
lators, Colonel Waddell has been led to form an opinion unfavorable to 
them. Many of his points are well taken. 

There are two contemporary accounts of the movement. The more 
important of these two is An Impartial Relation of the First Rise and Cause 
of the Recent Differences in Public Affairs in the Province of North Caro- 
lina, 1770, pages 104. This work, on what seems very good grounds, is 
usually attributed to Hermon Husband. It is a well-written statement of 
the first part of the struggle. It contains many documents and is usually 
reliable. It is reprinted in Wheeler's History of North Carolina, II, 301- 
331. The other book is A Fan for Fanning and a Touchstone for Tryon, 
by Regulus, Boston, 1771. The author of this work is unknown. It has 
been ascribed to Husband, but the internal evidence is against such a 
view. Governor Swain thought it was written by Shubal Stearns, a Bap- 
tist preacher from New England, who was living in Orange in 1771. It is 
not nearly so exact a statement of facts as the Impartial Relation, being 
characterized by wordy complaints against Try on and the other officers. 
It was reprinted in the North Carolina University Magazine, Vol. VIII, 
193 and 289. The most valuable of all sources is The Colonial Records of 
North Carolina, Vols. VII and VIII. They contain the documents of the 
Regulators, the records of the courts and of the assembly, the reports of 
Tryon to the home government, and many other documents bearing on 
the subject. They have been freely used in this paper. 



REGULATORS OF NORTH CAROLINA BASSETT. 143 

Church, of course, opposed it. The Presbyterian pastors united 
in a letter to the governor, in which they assured him of their 
" abhorrence of the present turbulent and disorderly spirit that 
shows itself in some parts of this Province." They also wrote a 
circular letter enjoining' all good Presbyterians to have noth- 
ing to do with the Regulation. 1 This letter was read at a muster 
in the Presbyterian county of Rowan, and perhaps in Meck- 
lenburg, and was of good service in securing volunteers to 
march against the Regulators in 1768. 2 It was signed by 
David Caldwell, Henry Patillo, Hugh McAden, and James 
Ores well, names of the highest respect in the history of this 
denomination in isorth Carolina. The JBaptists were perhaps 
the strongest in numbers in the vicinity. Morgan Edwards, 
who in 1772 traveled through this region gathering materials 
for a history of the Baptists, could hear of but seven Baptists 
who had joined the movement, and these, in accordance with a 
regulation of the Saudy_Creek Baptist Association, were excom- 
municated." In 1768 Governor Tryon attended divine service 
at a German church in Mecklenburg County, and the minister 
" recommended with warmth a due obedience to the laws of 
the country." 4 This same minister accompanied the troops to 
Hillsboro and preached before them there. The Quakers were 
the only other considerable sect in the vicinity, and they took 
practically the same position that the Baptists took. 5 

It is not to be thought, however, that members of these 
separate churches did not join the Regulation. They joined 
freely, but all the evidence goes to show that it was not from 
religious motives. Hermon Husband declared that they were 
of all sects, and that the leaders were of the Established 
Church. 6 

To understand properly the struggle which we are about to 
investigate, we must first acquaint ourselves with the physical 

1 Colonial Records of North Carolina, VII, 813-816. 

* lb., VII, 822 and 886. 
3 lb., VIII, 655-656. 

* lb., VII, 821. 

6 Dr. S. B. Weeks, whose forthcoming work on Southern Quakers and 
Slavery is announced as tbis monograph goes to tbe press, is authority 
for this statement. With such excellent verbal authority, the writer does 
not hesitate to print the above assertion in advance of the published 
work. 

6 Wheeler: History of North Carolina, II, 315. See, also, Purefoy's His- 
tory of Sandy Creek Association, pages 69-73, where Morgan Edwards is 
freely quoted. 



144 AMERICAN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION. 

characteristics of the locality, the social condition of the 
inhabitants, and the political institutions of the colony. To 
these preliminaries we turn. 

THE BACK COUNTIES. 

The topography of North Carolina reveals on the east a 
broad alluvial plain. This is intersected by numerous rivers, 
along whose banks lies much rich low ground. West of this 
section is a broken region of red clay soil thickly netted by 
small streams, which makes the head waters of the larger rivers 
of the plain. Farther west are high, mountain-studded pla- 
teaus, which modern railroad facilities are showing to be 
perhaps the grandest scenery on our eastern Atlantic Slope. 

It was in the second of these divisions that the Regulation 
had its home. At the time of which we write this region was 
usually known as "the back counties" or "the back country." 
It is hilly upland, and its fertile soil is well suited to the growth 
of grains, grass, and fruit. At the middle of the eighteenth 
century it was covered by large forests of oak and hickory, 
broken here and there by open prairie-like tracts of good 
grass. To a passing observer the country is much like that of 
eastern Pennsylvania or central Maryland. Indeed, it is part 
of a continuous geological formation which lies just east of 
the Appalachian foothills and extends in a southwest direction 
from Pennsylvania to northern Georgia. 

As the Keystone State marked the beginning of this forma- 
tion, it was also the gateway through which came most of its 
population. The fertile soil and the liberal government of the 
Quaker drew to his colony at an early day a strong tide of 
immigration. So great was the stream that there was soon an 
overflow. Newcomers willing to pay good prices for land 
induced the former owners to sell their holdings and seek others 
from the cheaper lands of the wilderness. Thus began a stream 
of humanity very much as the water in a natural depression 
rises till at last it breaks over the hills and cuts a channel 
through the plain. The course taken was to the southwest. 
The Virginia valleys were filled. Across the boundary into 
North Carolina 2 poured the tide. But here there was a halt. 



'Mr. Woodinason, who seems to have visited North Carolina in 1766, 
writes: " Africk never more abounded with new monsters than Pennsyl- 
"V ania with new sects, who are continually sending out their emissaries 



REGULATORS OF NORTH CAROLINA BASSETT 145 

Along the lower western valleys of the Yadkin a counter car 
rent from the South was met. The home seekers scattered 
themselves around in all directions, carefully picking out the 
best land. They moved to the west till they reached the 
mountains. A few hunters ventured across and found wide, 
sloping stretches of luscious grass. With alacrity the moun- 
tain gates were thrown open and the conquering host marcher! 
through. It was the beginning of " the winning of the West." 
When viewed in its entirety the whole movement seems a 
romance. 

The people who led this movement were of pioneer lineage. 
While still in Europe they had behind them a century of 
frontier life. Early in the seventeenth century James I moved 
many Scotchmen to Ireland with an idea of converting the 
country to Protestantism. In this he failed. The Protestants 
lived separate from, and often hostile to, the natives. The tide 
of Puritanism that swept over the country left them mostly 
Presbyterians. The country was not a home for them. The 
soil was poor, and consequently many of them turned their 
faces to the New World. From their association with the two 
countries they were called Scotch-Irish. They made ideal 
frontiersmen. While others came in their rear and settled close 
upon them, they were still usually the ones to push on to the 
next stop, ever restless and fearless. 

It was shortly before 1740 that this tide reached North Car 
olina. Coming down from Virginia, it ran along the head 
waters of the Yadkin, Haw, Neuse, Tar, Catawba, and Deep 
rivers, until the whole country from what is now the vicinity 
of Raleigh on the east to the neighborhood of Morganton on 
the west was taken up. So rapid was the movement that 
Governor Tryon reports* that in the summer and winter of 1765 
more than 1,000 immigrants' wagons passed through Salis- 
bury, most of which were bound for parts of North Carolina. 1 
Among those who came one can easily distinguish Scotch- 
Irish, Germans, Moravians, Welsh, and many Englishmen. 



around." His narrative, though utterly untrustworthy in regard to most 
that he says, shows that it was generally understood that the uewconiers, 
especially the Baptists, were from Pennsylvania. (Colonial Records, VII, 
286,287.) 

1 Those that went on were for Georgia and Florida. Some of these came 
hack to North Carolina. (Colonial Records, VII, 248.) 

H. Mis. 91 10 



146 AMERICAN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION. 

Besides those who came through the Pennsylvania doors, there 
were considerable numbers from New England, New Jersey, 
and Maryland. Tbey came by families or by friendly bauds, 
and occasionally by congregations. They placed themselves 
as chance or association directed. The Germans settled in the 
district now embraced by Cabarrus and parts of the adjacent 
counties. The Moravians took in common ownership the beau- 
tiful tract near Salem which they now hold in severalty. The 
Welsh settled chiefly in Duplin. The New Jersey people 
located in what is now Davie County, and the Quakers placed 
themselves in what is now Randolph and Guilford. Around 
Hillsboro there were many people, but they seem to have been 
drawn from many different localities. 

Tbe eastern plain had been the first part of the colony to be 
settled. Convenience of transportation and the desire for fer- 
tile river shores operated to group the earliest settlers along 
the water courses. In the extreme east streams were so numer- 
ous that the whole country was practically on water routes. 
This region was soon settled. Conditions here were favorable 
to slave labor, 1 and by the end of a century's growth the coast 
region was fairly full of fine estates and wealthy families. 
Although there were many of the middle class settled around 
them, these older families were the influential factors in the 
State and in society. Old settlers, with traditions of their own, 
and connected chiefly with the State religion, they had no 
sympathy for the new men of the hills. 

There was also a natural barrier between the two sections. 
This was a sparsely settled region of pine forest, stretching 
monotonously from the valley of the Roanoke on the north to 
that of the Cape Fear on the south. It was so far from the 
coast that it was traversed by few rivers, and those were hardly 
navigable. It contained but little "bottom*'' land and had to 
wait for tbe day of railroads and cotton cultivation before it 
was developed. 

Cut off thus from the men of the east, the men of the " back 
counties" felt no more sympathy for the former than they 
received from them. The merchants to whom they hauled 



1 There were very many more slaves in the east than in the west. In 1766 
in Orange there were 33 whites to every 6 blacks. In Johnston there -were 
10 to 5. In Perquimans there were 5 to 10, and in Brunswick there were 
2 to 11. (Colonial Records, VII, 288, 289. ) 



REGULATORS OF NORTH CAROLINA BASSETT. 147 

their produce at Cross Creek l were either Scotchmen or had 
come from Pennsylvania with the rest of the country. The 
Presbyterians received their first ministers from the Synod 
of New York and Pennsylvania, and later on sent their own 
ministerial students to Princeton College. Hermon Husband 
corresponded with Dr. Franklin. The author of the Fan for 
Fanning- printed his work in Boston. 2 Indeed, it is likely that 
the inhabitants of this region knew more about Philadelphia at 
that time than about Newbern or Edenton. 

The life of the people was that of the pioneer. The neces- 
saries of subsistence were plentiful, but luxuries were few. 
Some old men who had been Regulators told Caruthers that 
about the time of the Regulation there was not a plank floor, 
a feather bed, a riding carriage, or a side saddle within the 
bounds of their acquaintance. ' Yet at this time considerable 
advance had been made toward the cultivated habits of older 
communities. Many churches had been built, though they 
were often but rude structures. In Orange there was a regu- 
larly settled parish clergyman who had his church in Hillsboro. 
Farther out in the county were several chapels which were 
served by readers. 4 In Rowan a clergyman had been provided, 
but the Dissenters were making it difficult for him to enter 
into his living. 5 Within this district the Presbyterians had 
four pastors, each of whom had more than one charge. The 
Germans had pastors there also. 6 

The Baptists had been organized for some years. In 1758 
the Sandy Creek 7 Association was formed. Only two of the 
churches in it were within the district of the Regulators, but 

1 Now Fayetteville. 

2 This same author shows his feeling for the east as follows : "And such 
has been the fate of Newbern and other places in North Carolina that 
for many years they were erected an asylum for all such as fled from their 
creditors and from the hand of justice, and such as would not live by work- 
ing elsewhere, men regardless of religion and all moral obligation. Hence 
it was refugees from the western governments and from Connecticut, 
found a safe retreat in North Carolina, particularly on the seacoast and 
places adjacent." (Quoted by Swain in Univ. Magazine, Vol. IX, p. 465.) 

3 Life of Caldwell, pp. 139, 140. 

4 The site of one of these chapels was selected afterwards for the seat of 
the University of North Carolina. 

6 Colonial Records, VIII, 202-210, and 502-507. 

6 lb., VIII, 727-757. 

7 Sandy Creek was in what is now Randolph County. It was the central 
held of the Regulation. 



148 AMERICAN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION. 

there were more churches ten years later. 1 The Quakers erected 
their meetinghouses almost as soon as they arrived. Schools 
were beginning to be built up. Some of the pastors were peda- 
gogues as well. Still, ; t is well to remember that these schools 
were new and had been in operation hardly long enough to 
inliuence materially the adult population. The slight glimpse 
that we have into the religious life of all of these people shows 
them to have been honest, sturdy, and independent, and per- 
haps not always easily managed by their pastors. Coming 
from a land of liberal ideas of government, they expected to 
maintain their share in public affairs. Without broad political 
information, without communication or sympathy with the pre- 
dominant element in the government of the province, and with 
strongly impetuous natures, they were just so conditioned that 
they were likely to redress grievances by other than constitu- 
tional measures. 

The political institutions were not of a nature to suit a peo- 
ple like these. The constitution left them a very small share 
in government. The exercise of the executive, the judicial, 
and, to a large extent, the legislative functions was in the 
hands of the central royal officeholders. 

The governor was appointed by the King, and represented 
the royal prerogative. With the council, he was the chief exec- 
utive agent. The councilors were appointed by the Crown, 
usually on the recommendation of the governor, and they could 
bo relied on to take the side of the prerogative. The chief 
"justice was regularly named by the Crown. The governor in 
council appointed the county justices and the chief justice, tem- 
porarily, when there was a vacancy, and the two associates. 2 
Out of council he appointed the officers of the militia, and 
selected the sheriff from three freeholders whose names had 
been submitted by the county court. He must also approve a 
bill before it became a law, and he was commander of the 
militia. It was thus that his influence was paramount. Not 
being paid by the people's assembly, he was not afraid of it. 

There were two systems of courts, the superior and the infe- 
rior. The former was divided into six circuits, which were 
traveled twice a year. The chief justice and the two associates 



1 See Purefoy's History of Sandy Creek Association, 62-65. 
2 Colonial Records, VII, 690,691. 



REGULATORS OF NORTH CAROLINA BASSETT. 149 

held it. Its ministerial officers were appoiuted by some agent 
of the central authority. The inferior court was the county 
court. It was held by the justices of the county and was in 
nearly every respect the sole unit of local government. The 
sheriff executed its command, usually through his deputies, of 
which there was a liberal supply. He also collected all the 
taxes. The county and parish taxes were levied by the county 
court, and the sheriff returned the same to them. The appoint- 
ing of the clerks of county courts was unfortunately ai ranged. 
There was a clerk of the pleas, a relic of a past office, whose 
position was now a sinecure, and he appointed the clerks of 
the thirty-four county courts. The salaries of these clerks 
ranged from £50 to £500 a year. The clerk of the pleas let 
out the county clerkships to those who paid him the most rent 
for them. By this means he had an office which paid him with- 
out the least labor £560 a year. Governor Martin said, in 1772, 
that the county clerks used their influence to get into the 
assembly, where they were able to keep this arrangement from 
being abolished. 1 

The assembly was bicameral. The upper house was the coun- 
cil. The lower house was elected by the freeholders. Election s 
were held by the sheriff, but there seems to have been no strict 
oversight of the polls. Furthermore, there were no party lines. 
The influential men brought out a man as candidate, and he 
usually received the election. When a bill had been passed in 
both houses and signed by the governor, it must be apj^ved 
by the board of trade before it was a permanent law. 

The result of all this was that in each county there were a 
certain number of men who were likely to have in control all 
the offices. This is suggestive of what we to-day are accus- 
tomed to call " court-house rings.'" The disadvantage was that 
the continued effectiveness of government depended too much 
on the personal honesty of these officeholders. In many of the 
eastern counties this state of affairs seems to have worked 
well. But in the remote sections there is much evidence that 
the officers were selfish and mercenary, and that they were 
mutually leagued together to forward their own selfish ends. 
It was to try to clean out this Augean stable that Regulation 
had its existence. 



1 Colonial Records, IX, 264-266. 



150 AMERICAN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION. 

THE GRIEVANCES OF THE REGULATORS. 

The grievances of the Regulators were excessive taxes, dis- 
honest sheriff's, and extortionate fees.' Each of these was 
made more intense by the scarcity of money. The stamp-act 
trouble does not seem to have had any immediate influence on 
this movement. That the people of the back country sympa- 
thized with the Sods of Liberty and could have been aroused 
to help them had the discontent spread from the Cape Fear 
inward is undoubtedly true, but this whole movement passed 
over before the Regulation came into existence. 2 

The charge of excessive taxation was only relatively true. 
Taxes were apportioned by the poll. A taxable was an adult 
white man or an adult black man or woman. A rich man thus 
paid no more than a poor man in actual money. This injustice 
was emphasized as between the east and the west by the 
fact that the wealthy gentlemen of the former section relied on 
slave labor, while slaves were comparatively few in the west. 

The manner of collecting taxes made the burden still 
heavier. The tax bills, although questioned by the Regula- 
tors, seem to have been correct. 3 In a frontier region, where 
money was scarce and local trading was confined almost 
entirely to barter, it was not always convenient for the farmers 
to keep money in their homes. But throughout the country 
there were men who lent small sums to the countrymen when 
there was a sudden demand for cash. Consequently, when the 



1 In 1771 Governor Martin said that he was told on every side that a 
chief cause of these trouhles was the fact that Earl Granville had no 
agent in the colony who would give deeds for his lands. The settlers 
accordingly took possession of the lands, but refused to pay taxes for the 
same. This caused trouble with the sheriffs. (Colonial Records. IX, 49.) 
Granville's land office was closed from 1765 (lb., VIII, 195), and it is likely 
enough that the result was as just stated, but the fact that in the many 
statements of the questions at issue no prominence is given by either side 
to this cause is the author's justification for not putting it into the body 
of his text. 

2 It is well to remember, also, that the leaders of the resistance to the 
stamp act were among those who afterwards were most active to suppress 
the Regulation. 

'The tax bill for 1767 was 7s., besides county and parish dues. This is 
whatTryon told the Regulators (Colonial Records, VII, 794), and from the 
items in the bill for 1768 it foots up the same amount. (lb., VII, 772, 773.) 
Here it seems there are two bills, the latter of which is that for 1768. The 
items in the bills were referred to the laws authorizing them. 



REGULATORS OF NORTH CAROLINA BASSETT. 151 

sheriff would come unexpectedly to the taxpayer, the latter 
would propose to get the money if the officer would accom- 
pany him to the home of this neighborhood banker. The 
officer usually refused to do this and proceeded to distrain on 
some property, taking a fee of 2s. 8d. for the same. The tax- 
payer would then hasten to his neighbor's, secure the needed 
money, and hurry after the sheriff. That officer would take a 
different route than the one he had promised to take, and the 
luckless pursuer would arrive in Hillsboro in time to see his 
property sold to some friend of the officer's for much less than 
its value. The Regulators charged that officers played into 
each others hands for this purpose, and that there were men in 
Hillsboro who had made large sums by dealing in such business. 
The sheriffs were thought to have taken another step in 
defiance of popular justice when the assembly in 1768 passed 
a law requiring the sheriffs to attend five different places in 
each county, at least two days in each place, during January 
and February of each year, in order to collect the taxes. If 
the officer found it necessary to call at the home of the rate- 
payer for his due, he took an extra fee for doing it. The peo- 
ple of Orange regarded this law as passed at the instigation 
of the sheriffs. Husband declared ' that the sheriff insulted 
the people in it, and added that the officer " might have said 
the asses were obliged to bring their burdens to him in order 
that one of his deputies might collect the whole in ten days, 
sitting on his breech, at ease, in five places only." 2 



1 Wheeler, History of North Carolina, II, 305, and Colonial Records, 

VII, 771, 772. 

2 It has been stated that the tax for the governor's palace, which was 
erected in Newhern in 1765-1770 at a cost of £15,000, had much to do with 
working np the discontent that culminated in the Regulation. There is, 
however, no evidence that the palace deserves so much distinction. 
Among all of their complaints the Regulators refer to it only rarely. They 
seem to have considered this a slight abuse as compared with other mat- 
ters. (Cf. also Caruthers: Life of Caldwell, p. 106.) It is also stated at 
times that the expense of running the Cherokee boundary line was a 
cause of the Regulation ; but there is very slight reference to it in the 
published complaints of the Regulators. The fact that Maurice Moore in 
his "Atticus" letter arraigned Tryon for these two pieces of extravagance 
seems to have led most writers to assume that these were important causes 
of the troubles that came later. Moore served agaiust the Regulators, and 
his letter indicates that he hardly understood the movement. He cer- 
tainly does not say that the Regulators considered the two occurrences 
just cited as efficient causes of their oppression. (Colonial Records, 

VIII, 718.) 



152 AMERICAN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION. 

Another very prominent grievance was the dishonesty of 
the sheriffs, who failed to pay into the hands of the public 
treasury the money they had collected. The public accounts 
were most inefficiently kept. There was a prevalent opinion 
among all classes that there was fraud just here. In 1707 
Governor Tryon declared it as his opinion that " the sheriffs 
have embezzled more than one-half of the public money 
ordered to be raised and collected by them." ' This, he said, 
was due to the remissness of the treasurers, who feared to sue 
the sheriffs, lest the friends of these latter should combine to 
defeat the treasurers of re-election. He made several attempts 
to secure a statement of all such arrears, and finally in 1760 
John Burgwin was appointed to prepare a statement of the 
condition of the public accounts.- In the following year he 
made his report, 3 when it appeared that the several sheriffs 
were in arrears to the extent of £40,000. 4 Many counties 
were iu arrears for ten years, and some accounts reached back 
to 1751. A good deal of this was reported as worthless. In 
some instances neither principal nor securities were worth 
anything, and at times they had all run away. More than 
half of the amount in arrears, however, was reported good. 
This was especially true of the eastern counties, which were 
generally paid up until 1705. The bad debts and the long- 
arrears were mostly in the frontier counties — that is to say, in 
Anson, Orange, Johnston, Eowan, Cumberland, and Dobbs. 

The failure to pay into the treasury the amount collected 
led to an irritating misunderstanding between the governor 
and the assembly. In 1700 the provincial government issued 
£12,000 in currency, to be redeemed by a poll tax of Is. levied 
each year till the whole amount was sunk. The following year 
£20,000 was issued, to be redeemed by a poll tax of 2s. In 
1768 the assembly, after trying in vain to get a new issue of 

1 Colonial Records, VII, 497; also, VIII, 105. 

2 lb., VII, 981. 

3 lb., VIII, 278-281. 

4 This is the amount due for years preceding 1770. There was about 
£15,000 due for that year, but the report being made out in that year 
many sheriffs, especially those inclined to pay slowly, had perhaps not 
had full opportunity to settle with the treasurers when the report was 
gotten up. To include tbe amount for this year is therefore hardly fair to 
the sheriffs. The assembly of 1771, second session, decided to distribute 
in the counties printed copies of Burg win's report. (lb., IX, 124.) At the 
same time they ordered the treasurers to prosecute the delinquents. (lb., 
IX, 217.) As a result a fair proportion of the arrears was collected. (lb., 
IX, 572-57(5.) 



REGULATORS OF NORTH CAROLINA BASSETT. 153 

paper currency, resolved that enough money bad been collected 
to redeem these two issues, and tbat consequently tbe sberiffs 
should no longer collect these two items in the tax bill. 1 By 
this means they thought they would lessen taxation and pre- 
vent the volume of currency from decreasing. The governor, 
however, vetoed this resolution, because, as he said, he had not 
seen a statement of the moneys paid into the sinking fund. 2 
Two years later such a statement was prepared, and it shows 
that at the time in question but little over £25,000 had been 
burnt since 1700/ so that if they had devoted all moneys col- 
lected for the sinking fund to redeeming the two issues just 
mentioned there would still have been nearly £7,000 unre- 
deemed. 4 The failure of the governor to agree with the res- 
olution to cease to collect the 3s. as indicated caused a clash 
in the authority of government and gave rise to a great deal 
of misgiving among the people. 5 Had the sheriffs paid in 
their arrears this trouble would have been avoided. 

Extortionate fees was perhaps the greatest grievance of all. 
Nearly all the officers were paid in fees. The people of Che 
back counties complained heavily of their officers, and in sup- 
port of their complaint the Orange County Eegulators pro- 
duced affidavits sufficient to satisfy the most skeptical that 
they were right. 6 As soon as counties were organized on the 
frontier sheriffs, clerks, registers, and lawyers swooped down 
upon the defenseless inhabitants like wolves. Further than 
this, the people charged that the superior and county courts 
conspired to aid the officers in escaping punishment. The fee 
of a lawyer was fixed by law, but, like usury laws of our own 
day, it was difficult to enforce this law. The officers would 
manage to resolve a service for which a fixed fee was due 
into two or more services, and for each they would demand a 
fee. Both lawyers and court officials were thought to be in 
collusion to postpone cases in order that they might get more 
fees. 7 The court business was sadly behind, much to the incon- 



i Colonial Records, VII, 922, 923. 

2 lb., VII, 986. 

3 lb., VIII, 213-215. 

4 Tbe sinking fund received money as follows: Is. to sink two issues in 
1748 and 1754 ; Is. for the issue of 1760 ; 2s. for that of 1761, and 4d. a gallon 
on imported liquors. Perhaps not more than one-half of this fuud should 
have been devoted to the sinking of the two issues m question. 

5 See Husband's account, Wheeler, II, 311. 

6 Colonial Records, VII, 771-782. 

'Governor Martin, in 1772, supports the charge of malpractices by the 
lawyers. ( lb, IX, 340.) 



154 AMERICAN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION. 

venience of the people, who often were obliged to attend at a 
distance of from 30 to 60 miles. This was true to such an 
extent that in 1766 there were nearly 1,000 cases on the docket 
of Halifax superior court, and no civil causes bad been tried in 
any court in the province for six months. 1 The governor issued 
frequent proclamations to prevent illegal fees, but without avail. 

Connected with and influencing each of these grievances was 
that of the general scarcity of money. The English colonial 
policy had the effect of withdrawing from the colonies as 
much gold and silver as possible. So scarce did this money 
become that in 1765 Governor Tryon said that there was only 
enough of it in the colony to pay for the stamps which under 
the Stamp Act would be required on the instruments of writing 
used in one year in the superior courts of the province. 2 The 
people desired to issue a paper currency sufficient in amount 
for the demands, but were restrained by an act of Parliament 
made for the protection of British merchants, which forbade 
the colonies to issue legal-tender paper. The assembly peti- 
tioned the King for a relaxation of this injunction, but was un- 
successful. Distress was everywhere; but in the east, where 
there were public warehouses for receiving commodities, it 
was less than in the west, where there were none; because the 
people used the warehouse certificates as a medium of ex- 
change among themselves. An inhabitant of Orange related 
that at this time he had accompanied his father with a load of 
wheat to Cross Creek, now Fayetteville, where they received 5s. 
a bushel for the grain, but could get only one-fifth of the price 
in cash. His father returned home with 40s. and was able to 
pay his tax, which was more than his neighbors could do. 3 

All this was caused chiefly by a most shortsighted financial 
policy on the part of the provincial government. During the 
times of the French and Indian war the colony had made re- 
peated issues of currency. After peace was declared in 1 763 
this began rapidly to be redeemed. So sudden and wide an 
extension of the money medium was bad in itself; but when in 
the face of an immense tide of immigration the currency began 
rapidly to contract the effect was calamitous. An idea of this 

1 Colonial Records, VII, 200, 201. 

2 lb., VII, 144. 

3 Caruthers's Life of Caldwell, page 113. Colonel Saunders, with a singu- 
lar lack of insight, says that this wheat was sold for a shilling a bushel. 
Why he should have said nothing of the 4 shillings in barter given also for 
each bushel is incomprehensible. (Cf. Colonial Records, VII, p. xix.) 



REGULATORS OF NORTH CAROLINA BASSETT. 155 

may be gotten from the fact that in 1708 while the amount of 
mouey was decreasing about 10 per cent a year the population 
was increasing about 7 per cent a year. 1 

The inhabitants of the back counties, isolated from, and out 
of sympathy with, the dominant class in the province, were thus 
ready material to the hand of the political agitator. Weighed^ 
down by improperly adjusted taxes, dishonest officers, exces- 
sive fees, and an insufficient currency, the people only awaited 
the appearance of a leader under whom they might range 
themselves in opposition to their oppressors. The first man 
to appear in this capacity was Hermon Husband. 2 

THE LEADERS, 

Husband was born in Cecil County, Md., October 3, 1724. 3 
His family were Episcopalians, but Hermon with some other 
members of the family became Quakers. 4 He moved to North 
Carolina and settled at Sandy Creek, then in Orange County, 
but now in the northeastern part of Randolph. Here he 
accumulated considerable property. Our knowledge of him 
indicates that he was industrious, shrewd, honest, and much 
more intelligent than the average man of his neighborhoods 
By his neighbors he was reported to have been either related 
to, or connected with, Dr. Benjamin Franklin. It is in evi- 
dence that he kept up a correspondence with this patriotic 
Quaker through John Wilcox, a merchant of Cross Creek, 
who went to Philadelphia twice a year to buy goods. In this 
way he received many political pamphlets of a patriotic char- 
acter which he reprinted and circulated among the people. 
He got the credit of writing some of these, but it does not ap- 
pear that he claimed the authorship of any of them. 6 The only 
one of these of which we have any definite account is a collec- 

' Cf. Colonial Records, VII, 145, 288, 289, and 539, with VIII, 215. 

2 This spelling is used advisedly. Mr. Jacob L. Husband, of Baltimore, a 
relative of Hermon Husband, has a deed written and signed by Hermon 
Husband on January 7, 1769, in which the spelling is as here given. 

3 Penn. Mag. of Hist, and Biog., April, 1886, p. 119. 

4 Dr. S. B. Weeks, who has examined the records of the Quakers, has 
informed the writer that Husband was expelled from that organization, 
not because he was immoral, but because of divergence of views. This 
statement is also in advance of Dr. Weeks's forthcoming book. 

6 The deed referred to in note 1 was written by himself and is in good 
form, showing some legal knowledge. 

6 Caruthers's Life of Caldwell, pp. 119, 120. 



156 AMERICAN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION. 

tion called " Sermons to asses." It is adapted from a pro- 
duction of an English clergyinau of republican tendencies and 
was published without the name of the author or editoi. 1 Two 
sermons were on the nature of asses. One was from the text: 
"Issachar is a strong ass, crouching down between two bur- 
dens. And he saw that rest was good, and the land that it 
was pleasant; and he bowed his shoulder to bear and became 
a servant to tribute." The other was based on the biblical 
story of Balaam and his ass. Each contained homely truths 
vigorously stated. 2 

Husband's part in the Regulation has been overestimated. 
He was essentially an agitator, and his plan seems to have 
been to effect reform by means of public sentiment. When it 
became evident that the movement was running into violence 
he held aloof from it, only exerting himself to restrain excesses 
and to make peace. 3 His activity as a pamphleteer had given 
him such a reputation that it w T as impossible to convince the 
provincial government that he was not the chief leader of the 
popular side. The officeholders produced affidavits to show 
that he was in the crowd that perpetrated the Hillsboro riots; 4 
but whether or not he helped to administer the thrashings 
that some received the deponents did not say. The fact that 
when a short time afterwards he was expelled from the assem- 
bly for printing a libelous letter to Maurice Moore no charge 
was made in connection with this riot may, perhaps, be owing 
to lack of evidence on this subject. 5 Had it been at all sure 
that he was concerned in the riots, he would likely have been 
so charged in the indictment. He was with the Regulators 
on the morning of the battle on the Alamance endeavoring 
to bring about an adjustment. When he saw that this was 
impossible he mounted his horse and rode away. Some have 
attributed this to cowardice, but it is noticeable that none 
*-**/ of the writers who have talked with surviving Regulators 
have said that the Regulators accused him of deserting their 



1 It was erroneously supposed to have been adapted from Dr. Franklin's 
tract, " State affairs." 

2 These two sermons nre abridged in Revolutionary History of North 
Carolina (W. D. Cooke, ed.), pages 19-28. 

'•In 1768 the Regulators declared that he was a "gentleman that had 
never joined the Regulators, had never been concerned in any tumults, 
and whose only crime was being active in trying to bring on the intended 
settlement." (Colonial Records, VII, 765.) 

4 lb., VIII, 245-247. 

5 lb., VIII, 268,269. 



REGULATORS OF NORTH CAROLINA BASSETT. 157 

cause. It is more probable that his whole conduct was iu 
keeping with his Quaker principles of not actively participat- 
ing in a fight. He was twice elected to the assembly, being 
expelled during his second term, and when the officers of Rowan 
County agreed to leave the dispute between themselves and 
the Regulators to a committee of arbitration he was put on 
that committee. 1 To escape Tryon's wrath he fled the colony 
and spent the remainder of his life in western Pennsylvania, 
where he was prominently implicated in the whisky rebellion. 
He was captured, tried, and condemned to death, but was . 
released through the intercession of friends. He died before 
he could reach his home. 2 

There is no one who can be called a preeminent leader of the 
Regulation. Perhaps this is one cause of its failure. On the 
morning of the battle, when no one was found to command the 
people, some asked James Hunter to take command. His 
answer was characteristic both of himself and of the move- 
ment: " We are all freemen, and everyone must command him- t* 
self." 3 Re4irap__Hi)wjell, James Hunter, and William Butler 
were leading spirits; yet there were, perhaps, others as prom- 
inent as themselves. Hunter was spoken of as their "gen- 
eral." 4 Rednap Howell deserves to be mentioned as the bard 
of the movement. He was from New Jersey and was a school- 
master. W T ith his homely songs he soon set the entire country- 
side singing at the expense of Fanning, Frohock, and others 
of their associates. 5 



1 Colonial Records, VIII, 521. 

2 See Caruthers : Life of Caldwell, pages 166-168. 
3 lb., p. 163. 

iColonial Records, IX, 269. 

5 The following will suffice as specimens: 

When Fanning first to Orange came 

He looked both pale and wan, 
An old patched coat upon his back, 

An old mare he rode on. 
Buth man and mare wa'n't worth five pounds, 

As I've been often told, 
But by his civil robberies 
He's laced his coat with gold. 

— Life of Caldwell, page 116, note. 
Also this : 

Says Frohawk to Fanning, to tell the plain truth, 
When I came to this country I was but a youth ; 
My father sent for me ; I wa'n't worth a cross : 
And then my first study was to steal for a horse. 
I quickly got credit, and then ran away, 

And hav'n't paid for him to this very day. —lb., page 130, note. 

All that is known of the Regulators' rhymes is reprinted in the Raleigh 
Register, June 2, 1825. 



158 AMERICAN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION. 



t 



\ 



The most prominent leader on the opposite side was Gov- 
ernor Tryon. Much has been said to this man's discredit, but 
perhaps not all of it has been deserved. So far as the records 
show he was a man of decided executive ability, great tact, 
broad ideas, and much firmness. Like Strafford, his public 
character seems to be summed up in the word "thorough.'' 
Like most English gentlemen who were then sent to govern 
colonies, he expected to make money by the office, and he 
doubtless did it. 1 He was a genuine believer in the King's 
prerogative, and as governor he felt bound to permit nothing 
[that would detract from it. From his standpoint it was 
enough for the people if they submitted to the benign rule of 
ttie fatherly King. [ He came to enforce this kind of govern- 
ment and at the same time to build up his private fortune. He 
found that the officeholders in the counties were the friends on 
whom he might rely to accomplish both purposes. He felt 
drawn to them, and when the people criticised them he inter- 
fered in their behalf. As representatives of his ideas of gov- 
ernment he felt that they must be sustained. To accomplish 
his object he shrewdly, and perhaps heartlessly, used the 
means that politicians of the day were accustomed to use. To 
his mind a triumph of the Regulators would have been the first 
step toward undermining the royal authority. He came to 
]Sorth Carolina with an ambition to have a tranquil adminis- 
tration in what had hitherto been a troublesome colony. His 
very ideas doomed him to failure. It was his misfortune to be 
the governor just at the time when quiet was impossible. 

Edmund. Eanning, the local leader of the opposition to the 
( Regulators, was born in Connecticut and was educated at 
Yale College. He was a man of fine address and superior 
ability. For some time he was one of the leading men in the 
assembly, and seems to have won the confidence of such men 
as Ashe, Harvey, Waddell, Harnet, Caswell, and Maurice 
Moore, all men of the greatest reputation for patriotism, and 
whose parts in the Revolution have secured for them considera- 
tion as the fathers of the Republic. Unfortunately for him he 

1 In 1769 Lord Hillsboro told Tryon that the reason he had not named 
hini for the governorship of New York was that he had learned that he 
(Tryon) was getting more in North Carolina than the New York place paid. 
(Colonial Records, VIII, 190, 191.) 



REGULATORS OF NORTH CAROLINA — BASSETT. 159 

belonged to the office-holding class, and, like his associates, 
stretched his authority as much as possible, so as to take 
more money from the people. He said that he thought he had 
a legal right to take all he did take, and when he had been 
convicted the best experts of the law acquitted him of any 
criminal intent. Still, it is improbable that he fooled himself- 
in such a manner as his claim would imply. He was most 
likely a full-fledged office-holding bird of prey, no better and 
no worse, except as he had more native ability, than the 
other members of the political cliques in the back counties. 

EARLY DISPUTES. 

The early history of North Carolina was not a quiet one. 
Besides the so-called Culpepper and Carey rebellions, which 
occurred under proprietary rule, there had been several dis- 
putes between the people and the royal authority. 1 While 
these difficulties have no direct connection with the Regula- 
tion, they show that the spirit of independence was abroad in 
the colony a long time before the day of the Regulators. 

A notable outbreak of this spirit occurred in Mecklen- 
burg County on the 7th of May, 1765. George Selwyn held 
a large tract of land in this region, on which he had settled 
many men who had not received deeds for their holdings. In 
1764 Henry Eustace McCulloch was appointed agent for Sel- 
wyn, with instructions to survey these parcels of land, and 
either to close bargains for the same or to eject those who held 
them. McCulloch announced the price at which he would 
receive payment for the land, and in February, 1765, went 
up to have a settlement. The settlers indignantly refused to 
accept the proposition, offered him a smaller price, and when 
he refused to take it they forbade the surveyors to lay out the 
holdings. They also terrorized those who were willing to pay 
the price demanded, and declared that they would allow no 
sheriff to eject a settler for not paying it. 2 Finally, as John 
Frohock, Abraham Alexander, and others were about to sur- 
vey a piece of the disputed land they were beset by the 
enraged settlers and most severely thrashed. 3 This brought 



1 See Colonial Records, VIII, pages vii-x. 

2 lb., VII, 14-31. 

3 lb., VII, 32-34. 37. 



160 AMERICAN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION. 

out a proclamation from the governor, which, so far as we 
know, brought quiet, and perhaps the success of McOulloek. l 

The evidence we have in this case is all on the side of the 
agent, and it is accordingly unsafe to say who was in the 
wrong. At its face value, it indicates that McCulloch was act- 
ing entirely within his legal rights. - The incident is of impor- 
tance only as revealing the turbulent spirits of the backwoods- 
men and their vigorous method of redressing grievances. 

This same spirit was strong in Granville and Halifax coun- 
ties, where it was directed against extortioning officers. On 
June 0, 1765, it took a long forward stride when a gentleman 
of the Nutbush section ? ' of Granville issued what has been 
known as "The ISTutbush paper.' 7 It contained "an account 
of the deplorable situation we suffer * * * and some nec- 
essary hints with respect to reformation." The grievances of 
the people are stated as follows : 

A poor man is supposed to have given Lis judgment bond for £5, and 
this bond is by his creditor thrown into court. The clerk of the county 
has to enter it on the docket and issue execution, the work of one long 
minute, for which the poor man has to pay the trifling sum of 41s. 5d. 
The clerk, in consideration he is a poor man, takes it out in work at 18d. 
a day. The poor man works some more than twenty-seven days to pay 
for this one minute's writing. Well, the poor man reflects thus : At this 
rate, when shall I get to labor for my family? I have a wife- and parcel 
of small children suffering at home, and here I have lost a whole month, 
and I don't know for what, for my merchant is as far from being paid yet 
as ever. However, I will go home now and try and do what I can. Stay, 

neighbor, you have not half done yet. There is a d d lawyer's mouth 

to stop yet — for you empowered him to confess that you owed ttiis £5, and 
you have 30s. to pay him for that, and go and work nineteen days more; 
and then you must work as long to pay the sherifl' for his trouble; and 
then you may go home to see your horses and cow sold, and all your per- 
sonal estate for one-tenth part of the value, to pay ofl' your merchant. 
And lastly, if the debt is so great that all your personal estate will not do 
to raise the money — which is not to be had — then goes your lands the same 
way to satisfy these cursed hungry caterpillars that will eat out the very 
bowels of our commonwealth if they are not pulled down from their nests 
in a very short time. 



1 Colonial Records, VII, 38. 

2 When the settlers petitioned to the governor and council for justice, 
that body decided that the affair was not cognizable before them. (lb., 
VII, 34,35.) 

3 The name Nutbush is employed now to indicate a township, a Presby- 
terian church, and two streams — Nutbush and Little Nutbush creeks — 
in the northern part of what is now Vance and Warren counties. Nut- 
bush Township was divided by the boundary line of these two counties. 
It was formerly in Granville. (See Schaeffer's map of North Carolina.) 



REGULATORS OF NORTH CAROLINA BASSETT. 161 

The author called on all the gentlemen of Granville to help 
in changing this condition of affairs. All were cautioned that 
if they tried they must "be careful to keep sober, nor do any- 
thing rashly'' or "-against the known established laws of our 
land." Who this author was is not known. He succeeded in 
getting up a petition to the assembly for redress of grievances, 
but nothing came of it. The officers retorted by suing the 
subscribers for libel and by having the author of the paper 
indicted and imprisoned. When Husband wrote, perhaps 1769, 
the suits were still in court. 1 Of so little consequence was 
the whole affair that knowledge of it did not reach Orange, 
the adjoining county, until 1767. It is chiefly important as 
illustrating the political condition of the back country in the 
time just preceding the outbreak of the Regulation. 

This was not the only manifestation of the spirit of discon- 
tent. According to Husband, Brunswick, Cumberland, and 
other counties refused to pay their taxes as early as 1766. Of 
the results of these refusals we know nothing. From 1766 on 
all minor discontent is swallowed up by the events which soon 
called the attention chiefly to Orange and adjacent counties. 
It is to these events that we shall direct our attention. 

THE SANDY CREEK ORGANIZATION. 

What is usually spoken of as the Regulation in Orange is 
really two distinct movements. The one we may call the Sandy 
Creek Organization because it originated chiefly with Sandy 
Creek men ; the other is the Regulation proper. The former 
represented a mild but firm protest against the wrongdoing of 
the officers and its transactions are summed up in the papers 
usually known as the Regulators' Advertizements 1, II, and 
III. 2 The latter replaced the former. It was first known as 
"The Mob," but soon took the name "Regulation," from a South 
Carolina organization. It grew up when the former had failed 
and was dominated by a more turbulent spirit than was coun 
tenanced by the Sandy Creek organization. It eventually ran 
into such excesses that the militia of the province was called 
out twice against it. 

The Sandy Creek movement began late in August, 1766^ 
when at a county court there was issued a call for each neigh- 
borhood to send delegates to a meeting " at some place where 

1 Wheeler: History of North Carolina, II, 301, 302. 

2 These are found in Wheeler, II, 302, 304 and Colonial Records, VII, 249, 
251, 252. 

H. Mis. 91 11 



162 AMERICAN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION. 

there is uo liquor (at Maddock's Mill, if no objection), at which 
meeting let it be judiciously inquired whether the free men of 
this county labor under any abuses of power or not, and let 
the same be notified in writing if any is found, and the matter 
freely conversed upon, and proper measures used for amend- 
ment." 1 This call was read in court, whereupon the officers 
present acknowledged that it was reasonable, and Thomas 
Lloyd, one of the assemblymen of Orange, "declared his ap- 
probation of it " and suggested October 10 as a convenient 
day for the meeting. 2 

It is of advantage to note the relation of this movement to 
the stamp-act resistance. The call begins: 

Whereas that great good may come of this great designed evil, the 
stamp law, while the Sons of Liberty withstood the lords in Parliament 
in behalf of true liberty, let not officers under them carry on unjust 
oppression in our own province. 

Iii closing, the paper says : 

Take this as a maxim, that while men are men, though you should see 
all those Sons of Liberty (who has just now redeemed us from tyranny) 
set in offices and vested with power, they would soon corrupt again and 
oppress if they were not called upon to give an account of their steward- 
ship. 

This passage indicates the sympathy between the Sandy 
Creek men and the Sons of Liberty. This was possibly due to 
the influence of Husband, whose correspondence with Franklin 
made him a center of patriotic ideas of a revolutionary nature. 
There is no evidence of any connection between the Regula- 
tion proper and the stamp-act troubles. 

The idea of giving an account of their stewardship gave the 
officers an excuse for not going to the meeting at Maddock's 
Mill; for although they had at first promised to go, yet when 
on October 10 twelve delegates were met there the officers 
sent a messenger to say that they had decided not to attend, 
because the meeting claimed the authority to call them (the 
officers) to account. The messenger further announced that 
Colonel Fanning considered the meeting an insurrection. 

The meeting, however, proceeded to draw up a paper, the 
chief features of which were as follows : Since the county was 
so large that not more than one-tenth of the voters could know 
in a reliable manner the qualifications of any man, it was 



1 Colonial Records, VII, 250. 

* Husband. (See Wheeler, II, 303.) 



REGULATORS OF NORTH CAROLINA BASSETT. 163 

deemed right that there should be an annual meeting similar 
to the one then convened, so that the people might investigate 
the actions of their representatives, and that the representa- 
tives might know the wishes of their constituency. Inasmuch 
as the matter was new in Orange, " though practiced in older 
governments," it was hoped that the officers would in time be 
more willing to submit their conduct to these meetings, and 
that the people could be brought to support the movement 
more firmly. This paper was read to the messenger, who " said 
that it was so just and reasonable that no man could object 
to it." A copy was given to him, which he agreed to deliver to 
the officers. 1 \ 

The claim that representatives are responsible to their con- 
stituencies was at that time an innovation in the politics of the 
"back counties" of North Carolina. From the point of view of ' 
the officeholders it could not be allowed. Accordingly Colonel 
Fanning, either at the next county or general muster, read a 
paper "in repugnance to our requests." Husband did not 
know its contents. Fanning claimed that he had served it on 
the Sandy Creek men, but Husband says none of them ever 
saw it. It was probably but a more formal statement of Fan- 
ning's charge that the measures proposed were insurrectionary. 
Further than this, the officers made threats against the chief 
men of the movement, and when £50 had been collected to 
prosecute the offending officers it was found that the only 
lawyer on whom they could rely declined to take the case. In 
1767 two men, one a justice of the county court, purchased 
jointly a copy of the revision of the laws of the province. 2 Two 
others copied from it the fees for registering conveyances and 
went before the court to register some deeds. The fees charged 
they thought to be illegal. They protested, but being threat- 
ened with arrest for contempt of court, they thought best to 
desist. The justice who was half owner of the law book then 
went to his partner, who had brought the book to the court, 
and asked him to be cautious how he lent it out. This he did ; 
because there were so few of these books in this section that 
the court would easily know who had lent one of them. To 
this statement Husband adds: "Thus we may see how he 
apprehended himself under a necessity to conceal his good 



> 



J Colonial Records, VII, 251, 252, and Wheeler, II, 304. 
2 Davis's Revision, 1765. 



164 AMERICAN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION. 

offices and honesty to secure himself in office, but I suppose he 
was found out, for he was soon afterwards put out of commis- 
sion." All these obstacles so discouraged the people that the 
Sandy Creek men abandoned their association. 1 Thus termi- 
nated the first movement against the officers. 

THE REGULATION PROPER. 

It was not till the spring of 1768 that any further organized 
resistance was made to Fanning and his associates. The im- 
mediate cause of this resistance was a notice posted by the 
sheriff of Orange, stating that he would, according to law, 
receive taxes at five specified places, and for all not paid there 
he would distrain at a cost of 2s. 8d. for each distress. 2 Many 
people considered this a misinterpretation or a violation of the 
law. Along with it came the rumor that the assembly had given 
the governor £15,000 for the purpose of building a residence. 3 
The two affairs combined to bring about a new association, at 
first known as "The Mob," but later called " The Regulation." 4 
The movement did not begin in the Sandy Creek neighbor- 
hood, but it spread rapidly. The Sandy Creek men refused to 
join, "because it was too hot and rash, and in some respects 
not legal." They tried to guide the movement and to modify 



1 This account follows Husbaud. See Wheeler, II, 302, 303. 

2 A careful examination of the law then in force fails to show any 
authority for this assertion. Laws of 1768, ch. 6. 

3 Affairs were further aggravated by the fact that the sheriff at hist 
demanded 8s. 4d., which souie paid. Later Fanning arrived and said that 
the tax should be 10s. 8d. Many paid this with much complaining. The 
people had lost confidence in their leaders, and not being able to find in 
the law books the specified tax bills, declared they were being defrauded. 
(Colonial Records, VII, 763,764.) This was an error. Colonial Records, 
VII, 772, gives the items of this tax of 10s. 8d., and a comparison with the 
laws in Davis's Collections of 1765 and 1771 shows that the items as given 
in the posted notice were correct. (Collection of 1765, Vol. 1, 146; Vol. II, 
22, 192, and 222.) The tax to defray contingent expenses is_eited incorrectly. 
Instead of being 1748 it should have been 1767-68. It was passed in 1759 
for four years. In 1761 it was supplemented by 2s. tax. The original 
tax was continued in 1764 (chap. 8) and again in 1767-68 (chap. 18). 

4 The name Regulation was taken from a South Carolina organization 
formed to protect the people against the depredations of a lawless band 
known (from their leader, Colonel Schovel) as Schofilites. The affair 
was settled when the province established courts in the back counties, 
thus allowing the Schofilites to be brought to justice. (Quoted by Gover- 
nor Swain from Johnson's Traditions and Reminiscences. University 
Magazine, X, 134, 135.) 



REGULATORS OF NORTH CAROLINA BASSETT. 165 

its intemperance. A violent paper had been prepared and sent 
to the officers, 1 but these milder men persuaded the angered 
people to have another meeting, at which a new agreement, was 
drawn np, as follows: 

y/ We, the subscribers, do voluntarily agree to form ourselves into an 
association, to assemble ourselves for conference for regulating public 
grievances and abuses of power, in the following particulars, with others 
of a like nature that may occur: (1) We will pay no more taxes until we 
are satisfied that they are agreeable to law, and applied to the purposes 
tnerein mentioned, unless we can not help it, or are forced. (2) We will 
pay no officer any more fees than the law allows, unless we are obliged to 
do it, and then to show our dislike and bear open testimony against it. (3) 
We will attend all our meetings of conferences as often as we conveniently 
can, etc. (4) We will contribute to collections for defraying necessary 
expenses attending the work, according to our abilities. (5) In case of 
difference in judgment we will submit to the judgment of the majority of 
our body.- Hj 

The former of these papers was received by the officers 
with a storm of indignation, the burden of which fell on the 
Sandy Creek men, who, from their association with the other 
affair, were never able to separate themselves, in the minds 

'This paper read as follows: "Whereas the taxes in the county are 
larger, according to the number of taxables, than adjacent counties, and 
continues so year after year, and as the jealousy still prevails amongst us 
that we are wronged, and having the more reason to think so as we have 
been at the trouble of choosing men and sending them after the civilist 
manner that we could to know what we paid our levy for, but could 
receive no satisfaction. * * * We are obliged to seek redress by deny- 
ing paying any more until we have a full settlement for what is past, and 
have a true regulation with our officers, as our grievances are too many to 
notify in a email piece of writing. We desire that you, our assembly meu 
and vestrymen, may appoint a time before next court at the court-house 
and let us know by the bearer, and we will choose men to act for us. 
We desire that the sheriffs will not come this way to collect the 
levy, for we will pay none before there is a settlement to our satisfaction, 
and as the nature of an officer is a servant to the publick, we are deter- 
mined to have the officers of this county under a better and honester regu- 
lation than they have been for some time past. Thiuk not to frighten us 
with rebellion in tbis case, for if tbe inhabitants of this province have not 
as good a right to enquire into the nature of our constitution and disburse- 
ment of our funds as those of our mother country, we think it is by arbi- 
trary proceedings that we are debarred of that right; therefore, to be plain 
with you, it is our intent to have a full settlement of yon in every particu- 
lar point that is matter of doubt with us, so fail not to send an answer by 
the bearer." (Colonial Records, VII, 699, 700. ) 

2 Wheeler: History of North Carolina, II, 306. 



166 AMERICAN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION. 

of the officers, from the later movement. 1 The Regulation 
proper was now fairly launched, and the launching was with 
such violent language from the officers that many who had not 
before concerned themselves with the affair joined it outright. 

On April 4 the Regulators met again and requested the late 
sheriff and a vestryman to meet a committee of Regulators, on 
a day to be selected, with a list of the taxables for each year 
and a list of insolvents, together with a statement of all dis- 
bursements of the public money. They desired also that their 
assemblymen would be at the same time and place "to show 
us law for the customary fees that had been taken for deeds," 
etc. Two men were appointed to convey this request to the 
officers, but before they could set off there occurred such a 
storm of popular fury that the whole matter took an entirely 
different aspect. A Regulator's mare, saddle, and bridle were 
seized aud sold on account of one levy. A party of angry 
Regulators at once rode to Hillsboro, where they rescued the 
mare 2 and where some of the most uncontrolled spirits fired 
some shots into the roof of Fanning's house, by way of vent- 
ing their spite. The Regulators claimed that they were pro- 
voked to this by a gentleman who came to the door with a 
pistol and threatened to tire on them. 3 

Colonel Fanning was at that time attending the superior 
court at Halifax. Lieutenant-Colonel Gray, who commanded 
the militia in his absence, reported the matter to his senior 
officer and was ordered to embody at once seven companies of 
militia to oppose the Regulators. At the same time Fanning 
sent a warrant from the chief justice for the arrest of William 
Butler, Peter Craven, and Ninian Bell Hamilton, who had 
been leaders of the rescuing party. 4 The militia assembled at 
once, but it was found that of the seven companies only 120 
men presented themselves with arms in their hands, 5 and that 

1 It was perhaps due to this fact that the officers were not able to disso- 
ciate Husbands from the Regulation proper. 

2 Some old men, "of great respectability," told Caruthers that the mare 
was sold to an officer for the amount of the levy and that the Regulators 
repaid this and restored the property to the former owner. (Life of Cald- 
well, pp. 118,119.) 

3 Colonial Records, VII, 7G4. 

4 lb., VII, 705-707. 

5 The others gave as an excuse the bad weather and said they would 
rather pay the tines than attend muster. (lb., VII, 713.) 



REGULATORS OF NORTH CAROLINA BASSETT. 167 

very few of these could be relied upon to act against the peo- 
ple. It was the opinion of the officers that not over 150 men 
could be found in the county who could be depended on in 
the emergency. At this time, according to Husband, not 
more than one-half of the people had joined the Regulation. 1 
The remainder, it seems, were so strongly in sympathy with 
the Regulators they would not tight against them. The 
officers were also, perhaps, a little frightened. They decided 
to make a truce. This^so they wrote Fanning, was solely to / 
gain time. They appointed three men to meet the leaders of 
the Regulators on April 20. Whether this meeting was held 
or not we do not know ; but through the influence of the parish 
clergyman, Rev. George Micklejohn, 2 a further meeting was 
appointed for May 11, at which it was promised that matters 
would be definitely settled. 3 

On receiving this news Fanning set off at once for Hillsboro 
to take command of his regiment. Arriving there he reported 
the condition of affairs to Tryon. His ideas of the Regula- 
tors were based entirely on the paper which they had hastily 
sent to the officers, but which they had afterwards modified. 
He accused them of swearing to pay no more taxes, to kill all 
officers who tried to collect taxes, to prevent the execution of 
the decrees of the courts, and to arraign all officers before 
"the bar of their shallow understanding," as well as of desir- 
ing to become the "sovereign arbiters of right and wrong." 4 
He thought, however, that he should be able to manage the 
situation and said that inasmuch as the succeeding week was 
court week he should wait till it had passed, and then on May 
1 proceed to arrest the ringleaders of the opposition, sending 
them to Hillsboro for safety. He said that the insurgents 
had appointed May 3 a day on which they would surround the 
town, which, if their demands were not satisfied, they would 
burn. On this day he proposed to make a brave stand. It 
had been reported that they could bring large reenforcements 
from Anson, Mecklenburg, and Rowan counties. If these 

1 Wheeler: History of North Carolina, II, 308. 

2 The Regulators spell this name McEljohn. As a Scotchman he possi- 
bly had some influence over them. (See Colonial Records, VII, 764, 765.) 

3 See ib., VII, 710-712, for officers' letter. 

4 Fanning said that he was informed that the movement originated in 
Anson County. There is no evidence to support this. Fanning was loath 
to have the governor think his county had been so badly managed as to 
originate such resistance. 



168 AMERICAN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION. 

should come he desired the authority to call out the militia of 
other counties, though he was desirous of restoring order 
if possible without going out of his own county 1 for resources. 

To this letter the governor replied in the most cordial man- 
ner. He offered to go himself to aid Fanning if the latter 
.should think it necessary. He ordered the militia of Burke 
[Bute], Halifax, Granville, Rowan, Mecklenburg, Anson, Cum- 
berland, and Johnston, to be held in readiness to march at 
the command of the Orange colonel, and instructed that gen- 
tleman to call out his own regiment "to repel all insurrec- 
tions." He inclosed a proclamation to the people, which was 
to be published before decisive measures were taken. 2 Along 
with this letter came another of the same date, but in a milder 
tone. It was more conciliatory and was evidently intended to 
be read to the people. The council approved of this action of 
the governor, and declared the Orange trouble an insurrection. 3 

As to the charge of Tryon that the Regulators intended to 
burn the town on May 3, it is right to say that they denied it 
emphatically. Parson Micklejohn had induced five of their 
leaders to sign an agreement not to go to Hillsboro until the 
11th of May unless there should be a distress for a levy. 4 
These five had stipulated that this paper should be void if the 
majority dissented from it. The majority did dissent, because, 
as the Regulators declared, "it insinuated a falsity as though 
we intended violence, whereas in fact no such thing was de- 
signed, whatever private papers might be handed about by 
particular persons." 5 It was perhaps these "private papers" 
and other individual action that rashly brought the Regulation 
into trouble, making it very difficult for its more cool-headed 
leaders to manage it. 

On April 30 the Regulators met and elected thirteen dele- 
gates to attend the meeting on May 11. They selected men in 
whom they could place confidence, regardless of membership 
in the association. One of the men chosen was Hermon Hus- 
band, who was not a Regulator at this time. The thirteen 
"settlers ".were instructed to procure a list of the taxables for 
the terms of office of the two late sheriffs, with the number of 
insolvents and delinquents; to procure a fair account of the 

' Colonial Records, VII, 713-716. 
2 lb., VII, 717, 718. 
:i lb., VII, 719-722. 
4 lb., VII, 716. 
s lb., VII, 765. 



REGULATORS OF NORTH CAROLINA BASSETT. 169 

taxes collected and the citation of the laws authorizing them; 
to obtain especially an account of the province, county, and 
parish taxes of 1767; to examine the fee bill to learn the cost 
of registering- certain instruments. They were also required 
to take an oath pledging themselves to do justice between 
the officers and the people according to their capacity. 1 This 
paper was ordered to be sent to the officers. They also drew 
up and signed a petition to the governor and council which 
they laid aside to be used in case the officers should disappoint 
them in the proposed settlement. This petition came not as 
from Regulators, but as from "inhabitants of Orange County." 
It was signed by some not Regulators, notably by Husband, 
and there were more than 400 signatures. 2 

An unfortunate event here interrupted matters. On the 
same day the governor's secretary, one Edwards, arrived in 
Hillsboro and set up the proclamation mentioned above. On 
the next day Fanning put his preconceived plan into opera- 
tion. Collecting twenty-seven armed men, mostly from the 
officeholders, he set out for Sandy Creek. He arrived there 
on the morning of the 2d of May, when the sheriff, thus sup- 
ported, arrested William Butler, one of the Regulators, and 
Hermon Husband, who was not a Regulator, who had not joined 
in any tumult, and u whose only crime was his being active in 
trying to bring on the intended settlement."' 3 The charge was 
inciting to rebellion. 4 The prisoners were taken to Hillsboro 
at once, where they were thrown into prison after a trial before 
a justice of the peace. Husband was ordered to be taken to 
the Newbern jail for safe-keeping. 5 

This so aroused the fears as well as the indignation of the 
people, both Regulators and non-regulators, that next morning 
700 men were on their way to the town to release the prisoners. 
The officers, thoroughly frightened, were glad to release the two 
men and to send them out to turn back the mob. This, how- 
ever, was not till Husband had been terrorized into giving a 
promise that he would not concern himself any more in the 
abuses of the officers. 6 

1 Colonial Records, VII, 731-732. 

2 lb., VII, 733-737. 

3 For Husband's own account of his arrest and trial see Wheeler, II, 316 
et seq. 

4 Colonial Records, VII, 742. 

5 lb., VII, 743. 

« Wheeler, II, 317. 



170 AMERICAN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION. 

They also sent out Secretary Edwards, who read a proclama- 
tion to the excited people, and delivered a verbal message from 
the governor to the intent that if the Regulators would petition 
the governor for redress and go to their homes he would see 
that entire justice was doue them. This was exactly what they 
had decided upon as their next step in case the meeting on 
May 11 should fail, and they consequently gladly accepted the 
proposition. The officers also accepted the offer, and to the 
people the case was put as if the governor and council had 
been called in to arbitrate between the contending parties. 1 

The Regulators called a meeting to prepare the proposed 
petition. This was not m keeping with the plans of their 
opponents. Fanning had already written to some of the most 
pacific of the Regulators, offering, if they would meet him in 
Hillsboro, to prepare a petition to the next assembly for relief, 
which petition he agreed to present himself as a member from 
Orange. 2 By this it seems that he wanted to get a petition 
worded in a manner inoffensive to his interests, which he could 
present as the petition of the discontented people of his county. 
His plan was thwarted now that the petition was to be regu- 
larly prepared by the organization. The officers did not give 
up hope, however: for through Ralph McNair they sent Hus- 
band a paper of their own framing, which, it was confidentially 
said, was the only petition that would " go down with the gov- 
ernor." 3 Husband was asked to induce the people to adopt 
this as their petition. It was a dastardly attempt at bulldoz- 
ing. The Regulators were, by this paper, to denounce their 
past conduct as "illegal and unwarrantable," to declare that 
they had been mistaken in their charges against the officers, 
and to throw themselves entirely on the mercy of Tryon. 
McNair wrote coaxingly enough, but he did not hesitate to 
employ threats. He warned Husband that if the proposed 
petition was not adopted Fanning would represent the case to 
Tryon as treason. At the meeting a clergyman and a mer- 
chant 4 appeared, who tried to influence the people to the same 
end. The very inexperience of the Regulators saved them. 



1 Colonial Records, VII, 765, 766. 

2 lb., VII, 741. 

3 McNair's letter and the petition referred to can be found in Colonial 
Records VII, 767-771. 

4 The names of these two men are not given. (See Wheeler, II, 309.) 



REGULATORS OF NORTH CAROLINA BASSETT. 171 

Confused by the threats of the officers, they appointed a com- 
mittee, who should lay before the governor and council all the 
papers of the association, and who should transmit with them 
a statement of the history of the movement, together with a 
request for pardon for anything they had done contrary to the 
King's peace and government. 1 

At the same meeting they procured affidavits to support 
their charges against the sheriff, clerk, and register in twenty 
cases of alleged illegal fees. These affidavits were most prob- 
ably sent to the governor along with their other papers. They 
undoubtedly make out a very strong case against the officers. 
Moreover, we have no evidence in rebuttal of them. 

The reply 2 of Tryon to the Regulators was cold. He denied 
that he had authorized Edwards to pledge his interference 
to them. He frowned at their proceedings, darkly hinted 
at treason and its punishment, hoped that his proclamation 
had brought them to submission, indorsed the vigorous action 
of Fanning and the loyal militia, directed the dissatisfied to 
desist from all further meetings, and to allow the taxes to be 
collected. Said that he had authorized Edwards to say 110 
more than this communication implied. He assured them that 
he should order the attorney general to prosecute upon due 
application all who were charged with taking illegal fees, and 
promised for himself that a proclamation should be issued 
against the same abuse. For their better information he told 
them that the poll tax, exclusive of county and parish taxes, 
was, for the year 1767, 7s. 3 The governor read this reply in 
the council, where it was ratified. Then, at his suggestion, 
Fanning was called into the room, and the thanks of the body 
formally expressed to him and his men "for their prudent and 
splendid behavior" in the recent troubles. 

While affairs were assuming this shape in Orange they had 
come almost to as bad a condition in Anson. Here the office- 
holding influence was very strong, and the people complained 
of the same abuses that were charged against the Orange 
officers. Abundant evidence will be forthcoming in this paper 
to show how thoroughly county government in North Carolina 
was then in the hands of an office-holding oligarchy. In Anson 



1 Colonial Records, VII, 759-766. 
2 lb., VII, 792-794. 

1 This is what it was announced by the sheriff for 1768, when there had 
been no change by the assembly since the previous year. 



172 AMERICAN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION. 

the_abuse was marked. Samuel Spencer was at once clerk of 
the county, assemblyman, and colonel of the county militia. 
Anthony Hutching had formerly been sheriff, and as such was 
behind with his accounts, and was charged with having fraudu- 
lently conveyed his land to escape payment. He was now a 
justice of the county court. Charles Medlock had also been 
sheriff, and was behind with his accounts. He also was a 
justice. These three men managed the politics of the county. 
The sheriff, justices, and other officers were all appointed on 
their recommendation. ' 

Against these the people in 1768 formed an association, the 
members of which agreed to unite to prevent the collection of 
the tax for that year, which they thought unreasonably high, 
to rescue any fellow-member who should be iinx>risoned, to 
retake property distrained on account of nonpayment of taxes, 
and to aid in repaying any member the cost in a lawsuit 
incurred by reason of his membership in the association. 
Leading this movement was Charles Eobinson, whom Spencer 
described as a chronic candidate for the assembly, who had 
worked up this movement in order to aid his political fortune. 
Robinson had been in the assembly once^ and there seems to 
be no reason why we should not believe him an honest cham- 
pion of the cause of the people. 

In April, 1768, the discontented in Anson gathered at the 
county court about one hundred strong and interrupted the 
proceedings. They drove the justices off the bench, held a 
meeting in the court-house at which Robinson was indorsed 
for the assembly, swore to an oath of their own making, and 
then dispersed. 2 Spencer forthwith sent Mr. Hooper, possibly 
William Hooper, to Tryon with a letter, asking for orders in 
the emergency. The governor, in reply, gave Colonel Spencer 
the authority to call out the county militia, in order to appre 
hend the leaders of the insurgents. He promised that if the 
people would present their grievances to him or to the assem- 
bly they would be redressed, and pointed out that if they would 
apply to the attorney-general that officer would prosecute all 
persons charged with extortion. In addition to this letter the 
council issued a proclamation against the disturbers. 3 



1 Colonial Records, VII, 806-808. 

2 This is Spencer's account of the aft'air. (lb., VII, 722-726.) 
3 Ib.,VIL751. 



REGULATORS OF NORTH CAROLINA BASSETT. 173 

The Anson Regulators, however, wrote to their brethren in 
Orange, asking for information as to the methods of organiz- 
ing. The latter responded with alacrity, sending a copy of 
their proceedings on May 21, "to prevent speedily their run- 
ning into any errors," and promising to send other papers. 1 
It was, perhaps, due to this advice that three months later 
ithe Anson people changed their method from violence to the 
friendly petition. In August they delivered to the governor a 
statement of their grievances. They acknowledged that they 
should have addressed him before their proceedings of the 
past April, but pleaded that oppression had made them rash. 
They asked that most of the justices of peace in the county 
might be removed and others appointed in their stead. To 
this paper 99 names were signed. 2 Governor Tryon replied 
in a conciliatory tone, promising that officers charged with 
extortion should be prosecuted, and intimating that the insur- 
gents had been fortunate in securing lenity by their timely 
submission/ The people had not submitted to any great 
extent, however, as we shall see them later on aiding their 
brothers elsewhere. It seems very evident that Tryon was 
trying to divide the Regulators in Anson from those in Orange, 
so as to deal more successfully with the latter. 

Wben the Regulators of Orange referred their case to Tryon 
for arbitration they did so with full confidence in his disinter- 
estedness. The cold reply to that appeal had destroyed much 
of this confidence. Just about this time a report was circu- 
lated that about £30,000 had been collected more than was 
necessary to sink the outstanding public currency. This was 
given as merely a suspicion ; but in popular disturbances a 
suspicion is often as potent as a fact. The Regulators had 
been forbidden to assemble themselves in any more meetings, 4 
and consequently there was much private talking of no sub- 
missive nature. A proclamation against illegal fees had been 
set up at Hillsboro, but it had not brought relief. Husband 
says that it was followed by higher rather than lower fees. 5 



1 Colonial Records, VII, 759. 

2 lb., VII, 806-809. 

3 lb., VII, 809,810. 

4 Governor Tryon says they did meet in spite of this injunction. (lb., VII, 
819.) 

5 Wheeler : History of North Carolina, II, 311, 312. 



174 AMERICAN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION. 

In the meantime Tryon went to Hillsboro, arriving there on 
July 6. He remained until August, hoping that the country 
would be induced to submit. The people refused as stoutly as 
ever to pay taxes. On August 1 they met to consider, as Hus- 
band says, the answer to Tryon's reply to their petition. At 
this meeting there appeared the sheriff of the county, bearing 
a letter and proclamation from the governor, the import of 
which was that the attorney-general had been instructed to 
prosecute officers charged with extortion, and that the Regu- 
lators should quietly submit to the collection of taxes by the 
sheriff. Both the sheriff and his deputy deposed that after 
the public reading of this letter the people refused to pay 
the taxes and threatened to take the life of the said deponents 
if they attempted to distrain property. 1 Husband says they 
merely told the sheriff that they had decided to refer the mat- 
ter to the assembly and the whole council, and declared that 
no insult was offered. 2 They also sent a reply to Tryon's 
answer to their formal petition, in which they claimed that the 
officers paid no attention to the proclamation against illegal 
fees, 3 and added: "Seeing that these sons of Zeruiah are like 
to prove too hard for your excellency, as well as for us, * * * 
we have come to the resolution to petition the lower house, as 
the other branch of the legislature, in order to strengthen 
your excellency's hands." 4 

Immediately after this the Regulators were alarmed by 
rumors to the effect that runners were out arousing the mili- 
tia, and that the Indians were about to be called down upon 
them. A great multitude of the people — over a thousand — col- 
lected about 20 miles from Hillsboro on August 11 and selected 
eight men to interview the governor. To these the governor 
replied that he had not had an intention of enlisting the 
Indians or of leading the militia "to break in upon any set- 
tlement, as has been falsely represented;" that he was ever 
ready to do them justice; that Fanning had agreed to submit 
his case to the next supreme [superior] court, by whose deci- 
sion he would abide, and finally that the sheriff's accounts 
with the county had been examined and approved. Tryon 

1 Colonial Records, VII, 798-799. 

2 Wheeler, II, 312. 

3 This proclamation is found in Colonial Records. VII, 795-796. 

4 Wheeler, II, 13,14; also Colonial Records, VII, 801-803. 



REGULATORS OF NORTH CAROLINA BASSETT. 175 

also appointed August 17 as a day for a meeting of Regula- 
tors, when, as Husband says, the sheriff should settle with 
them, by which he probably meant that on that day the sheriff 
would give them an opportunity of examining the public 
accounts. l 

The governor seems not to have called together the militia 
till the town was thought to be in danger. Then he could 
gather only 400 men, to whom he administered an oath of 
allegiance to the King and to the North Carolina government 
before he dismissed them. 2 

On the 17th, the day set for the meeting, the old sheriff did 
not appear, but John Lea, the new sheriff, appeared with a 
letter from Tryon, the tone of which was unexpectedly severe. 
This letter had been indorsed by a council of three members 
which had been gotten together at Hillsboro. In it the Regu- 
lators were told that their measures were criminal and illegal ; 
that they had made every man of property and probity in the 
county consider them as bent on insurrection rather than as 
desiring a legal process against those whom they accused. It 
was the governor's chief concern that they should not trust 
the courts of law, and in this he felt was implied the insuffi- 
ciency of his power to see that justice was done them. To 
relieve him of the necessity of calling out the militia to pro- 
tect the next term of court, at which Butler and Husband 
were to be tried, he demanded that by the 25th of August 
twelve of the prominent Regulators should meet him at Salis- 
bury and become surety in a bond of £1,000 that at the said 
court no attempt should be made to rescue the two men in 
question. 3 This letter was delivered on the 17th; on the same 
day Tryon set out for Salisbury. 

Two days later the Regulators replied that for two reasons 
they could not enter into the proposed bond: (1) The most 
pacific of their number were their leaders, and these could 
govern the men and prevent outrages, whereas if they entered 
into such a bond it would destroy their influence over the more 
violent; and (2) they had never intended to rescue the prison- 
ers, but to ask the governor to dissolve the assembly, a pro- 
cedure which they thought would stop every complaint. The 

1 Colonial Records, VII, 819-821 ; and Wheeler, II, 312-313. 

2 Colonial Records, VII, 804. 

3 lb., VII, 805, 806. 



176 AMERICAN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION. 

governor's plans were already made and lie was acting with 
his customary promptness. His design was, if the Regulators 
should not be submissive, to- get as many forces as he could 
raise in Rowan and Mecklenburg counties and then to march 
back to Hillsboro just before the term of the superior court, 
which met in September. He arrived in Salisbury on the even- 
ing of the 18th. On the 10th he appointed a review of the 
Rowan militia for the 26th, gave orders that ample entertain- 
ment should be provided on that occasion, and passed rapidly 
on to Mecklenburg. 1 Passing through the German settlement 
he stayed on Sunday with Maj. Martin Phifer, a member of 
the assembly from Mecklenburg. Here he won the people by 
hearing a sermon by their minister, Mr. Suther, who "recom- 
mended with warmth a due obedience to the laws of the 
country ' He cajoled the Presbyterians also, whose ministers, 
Hugh McAden, 2 James Creswell, Henry Patillo, and David 
Caldwell, sent the governor a letter full of loyalty to gov- 
ernment and maledictions for the Regulators, 3 while at the 
same time the Presbyterian pastors, presumably the same 
ministers, wrote a letter to the North Carolina Presbyterians 
condemning the Regulators in the strongest terms. 4 He also 
utilized the feeling of respect for their neighborhood leaders, 
which was still strong with the Scotch, by appointing as cap- 
tains and justices of the peace the influential men of the differ- 
ent communities. These were able to bring many soldiers to 
his side. 5 The organization of the Baptists was also against 
them. 6 

From Major Phifer's he proceeded to review the Mecklen- 
burg militia on the 23d. Here also he had entertainment pro- 
vided for men and officers. Nine hundred men came to the 
review, but when he tried to get them to take the oath that he 
had administered to the loyal in Orange some objection was 
made, so that, as night was coming on, it was not possible 
to call for volunteers. He accordingly ordered the captains to 

1 Try oil's journal shows all of his proceedings on this trip. (Colonial 
Records, VII, 819-838.) 

2 The spelling in the letter is McCaddon, hut Foote gives it uniformly 
McAden. (Sketches, pp. 175-176.) 

3 Colonial Records, VII, 813-814. 
4 lb., VII, 814-816. 

6 See "Fan for Fanning," Univ. Mag., IX, 465. 

6 Purefoy : History of Sandy Creek Association, pages 69-73. 



REGULATORS OF NORTH CAROLINA BASSETT. 177 

call for volunteers at private musters and to report the num- 
ber tbey could furnish, to their colonel by the 27th. On the 
26th he was in Salisbury, where the reading of the letter of 
the Presbyterian pastors and a liberal supply of beer and 
toddy handed around in the ranks of the volunteers had the 
desired eifect. By this means he was able on the 13th of Sep- 
tember to set out for Hjllsboro with 195 men from Rowan aud 
310 from Mecklenburg. 1 He met with no opposition save a 
harmless threat from the Regulators that they would, on the 
pretense of the fear of disease, stop a drove of cattle which 
were being driven to him, and on the 19th he arrived at his des- 
tination. Two days later this body was joined by the Orange 
forces, 099 strong, and by the Granville detachment of 120 
men. These, with two small companies of gentlemen, an artil- 
lery company, and the general officers, made up a force ofJ^Ol 
men, all called out to protect the Hillsboro court from the 
Regulators. 2 _ 

One peculiarity of this force was the number of officers in 
it. There were six lieutenant-generals, two major-generals, 
three adjutant-generals, two maj ors of brigades, seven colonels, 
live lieutenant-colonels, four majors, and thirty-one captains. 
Of the entire force only 1^53, about three-fourths, were pri- 
vates. Another noteworthy feature was the number of poli- 
ticians among the officers. Robert Palmer, a member of the 
council, was present as adjutant-general ; John Rutherford, 
president of the council and receiver- general of quit-rents, 
was a lieutenant-general; John Sampson, Benjamin Heron, 
LeMs H. De Rossett, and Edmund Strudwick, all members of 
the couucil, were likewise lieutenant-generals; 3 John Ashe, 
assemblyman from New Hanover, was a major-general, and 
James Moore, his colleague, commanded the artillery, with the 
rank of colonel; Edmund Panning and Thomas Lloyd, repre- 
sentatives of Orange, held military office, the one as colonel 
of the Orange regiment and the other as a major-general; 
Robert Harris, representative from Granville, commanded that 
county's militia, with the rank of colonel ; John Frohock, the 
lieutenant-colonel of Rowan's regiment, was a member of the 



1 Colonial Records, VII, 889. 

2 The return of the troops is given in Colonial Records, VII, 889. 

3 lb., VII, 833. 

H. Mis. 91 12 



178 AMERICAN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION. 

assembly, and Alexeuder Osborn, the colouel, was a justice of 
the county court ; ' Martin Phifer was an assemblyman from 
Mecklenburg and was here a major; Thomas Polk held the 
same civil office from the same county and was here a captain; 
Abner Nash, a prominent politician of Halifax, was a major 
of brigade; Samuel Swann, jr., assemblyman from Pasquo- 
tank, was a captain of artillery; Alexander Lillington, an old 
and influential politician, was a colonel; Maurice Moore, an 
assemblyman and an associate justice of the superior courts, 
was present as a colonel; Eobert Howe, a member of the 
assembly, was a major of brigade; Moses Alexander, an influ- 
ential Presbyterian of Mecklenburg, was present as a lieuten- 
ant-colonel and as commissary for his regiment ; Thomas Hart, 
the obnoxious ex- sheriff of Orange, filled the office of commis- 
sary of the Orange and Granville forces, and Samuel Spencer, 
who held several offices in Anson, was present as colonel. At 
a council of war held in Hillsboro, which no military officer 
lower than a major attended, but to which 6 members of the 
assembly were invited, there were present in all 34 members. 
Of these, IS were members of the lower house and 6 were mem- 
bers of the upper house of the assembly, making a total of 24 
out of 34. 2 Thus, to guard the superior court a military force 
was called out which embraced, either as high officers or as 
gentlemen volunteers, one-fourth of the members of that body 
to which the Regulators had decided to appeal. 3 The above 
contrast indicates how completely the forces of central and 
local government, both civil and military, were in the hands of 
a small officeholding class, which was distributed throughout 
the counties. As we contemplate such a state of affairs we 
are struck with the fact that nothing short of a popular upheaval 
could have brought redress to the Regulators. 

Before this array of force the simple farmers were not pre- 
pared to make a stand. They assembled on September 22, 
about half a mile from the town, to the number of 3,700, and 
sent proposals to the governor "desiring to know the terms on 



'Colonial Records, VII, 856. 

2 These facts have for the most part been obtained by comparing Tryon's 
journal with the list of assemblymen, to be found in Colonial Records, 
VII, p. 342. 

3 ' r here were 72 members in the assembly at that time, it seems. (lb., 
VII, 342.) 



REGULATORS OF NORTH CAROLINA BASSETT. 179 

which their submission would be accepted." 1 This proposi- 
tion was received by a council of war at which the governor, 
who was sick, could not be present. The council of war pro- 
posed to pardon insurgents if they would give bond to pay their 
taxes and for the future not to obstruct the officers. The 
governor suggested that the council consider the advisability 
of sending troops "to compel the Regulators to submit them- 
selves to government," but that body would modify its views 
only to the extent that the Regulators should be required to 
take the oaths of loyalty and allegiance which had been admin- 
istered to the troops. Accordingly the people were told that 
if they would surrender 5 of their leaders from Orange, 2 
from Anson, and 2 from Rowan, lay down their arms before 
the army, and promise to pay taxes in the future they would 
be pardoned. Husband and Butler, it was stipulated, were 
not to be included in the 9 excepted persons. About thirty 
of the people accepted this offer; the others went to their 
homes. The next day Tryon sent a body of troops to arrest 
those who were especially wanted. Some submitted to arrest, 
others resisted, but all who were taken were soon released be- 
cause a true bill could not be found against them. The mili- 
tia remained in the town during the session of the court. On 
the 28th they began to be discharged, and on the 2d of Octo- 
ber the last of the several detachments marched away. On 
theJM, Tryon, by proclamation, pardoned all bnt-J3 of the 
insurgents. 2 The Regulators soon subsided, and on October 29 
Tyree Harris wrote to the governor that on visiting them in 
in their homes but a short time before he had found them dis- 
posed to pay the taxes. 3 Thus ended Tryon's first military 
expedition against the Regulators. It had cost the province 
£4,844 4 and not a drop of blood, but it quieted for some time 
the turbulent members of the Regulators and it gave the pro- 



1 Husband says they offered to pay levies, etc., as usual if the governor 
would let them coine into town to testify against the officers, aud if he 
would pardon their past breaches of the peace, the cases of Butler and 
Husband excepted. The minutes of the council, which we have followed, 
say nothing of this, although, as they do not contain the written proposal 
of the Regulators, it is possible that Husband is correct. (See Colonial 
Records, VII, 840-842, and Wheeler, II, 316.) 

2 Colonial Records, VII, 850. 
3 lb., VII, 863,864. 

« lb., VII, 887-888. 



180 AMERICAN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION. 

vincial magnates an easy and safe means of acquiring military- 
titles. l 

[n the meantime the court had taken up the cases against 
Husband and Butler as well as the cases against the officers. 
Husband was indicted for a rout in four cases; the grand jury 
returned three of these "ignoramus;" on the other he was tried 
and acquitted. 2 Butler was tried on two counts and found 
guilty on each. He was sentenced to pay a fine of £50 and to 
be imprisoned six months. Two others, Phillip Hartso and 
Samuel Devinney, were tried for the same act, convicted, and 
sentenced to pay a fine of £25 and to be imprisoned three 
months. Dennice Bradley, who was indicted for burning the 
jail of Granville, was acquitted, and three true bills that had 
been made out against the leading Begulators who had been 
arrested were ordered to be quashed because of irregulari- 
ties, and the attorney- general was ordered to bring in others. 
Tryon's policy was now to be as lenient as possible, in order to 
bring the people back to submission, and it is doubtful if it 
was intended that these indictments should have been revived 
at the next court. Indeed, he wrote to Lord Hillsborough, 
the secretary for the colonies, that he "imagined " that " these 
will take their trial next March." The three prisoners, as men- 
tioned above, he released 3 and suspended the payments of their 
fines for six months. 4 On September 9, 1769, Tryon, acting on 
advice from the King, pardoned, by proclamation, all those 
who had been found guilty on these charges. 5 

'While the troops were in Hillsboro, Rev. Henry Patillo, one of the 
leading Presbyterian ministers of the early history of that denomination 
in North Carolina, preached to the troops. Mr. Suther was ordered also 
to preach to the Germans in the army ; whether he complied or not does 
not appear; he doubtless obeyed. At the same time Rev. Mr. Micklejohn, 
the parish clergyman, was " desired " to preach before the troops. The first 
and the last were publicly thanked for their services (Colonial Records, VII, 
835, 836, and 886), and the next assembly ordered the sermon of Mr. Mickle- 
john to be printed at the public expense. (VII, 983.) This sermon was 
preached from Romans, xiii, 1 and 2, that text which has so often been 
made to hold up the temple of tyranny, and the preacher said in it that the 
governor should hang at least twenty of the rebels, and that they could 
not hope to escape hell. (See Foote, Sketches, p. 67.) 

2 Wheeler, II, 321,322. 

3 Husband says two of them escaped and a discharge was sent after 
them. The other, Butler, was discharged also. (lb., II, 322.) 

"See Colonial Records, VII, 844-846 and 884, 885. 

5 lb., VIII, 17 and 67. 



REGULATORS OF NORTH CAROLINA BASSETT. 181 

The one half of the business of the court, that is to say, 
to try Regulators, was easily accomplished; the other half, to 
try the officers, was a harder task. Husband says the troops 
asked the business of every man who went into the court. If 
any owned that they came to complain of officers they were 
bulldozed by the guards, so that many were scared away. 
Those who persisted in staying were ordered out of town. One 
of the prisoners, very likely Husband himself, induced several 
to come back, and these brought charges against Fanning andj 
Francis JSTash. The former was register, and on five counts 
he was found guilty. He pleaded a misconstruction of the 
law. For each offense he was fined 1 penny. Nash, accord- 
ing to Tryou, was also convicted, but if he was convicted he 
must have gotten a new trial, for the court records show that 
he gave his bond to appear at the next court. 1 On being con- 
victed Fanning at once resigned his position as register. 

The case against Fanning is worthy of a fuller statement. 
The fee bill allowed the register 2s. 8d. for registering a con- 
veyance " or any other writing, or giving a copy thereof." A 
deed was brought to be registered, which, besides being a 
mere conveyance, had indorsed on it the certificate of the 
examination of a feme covert, the certificate of the person ex- 
amining, and the oath of execution. To the people this was 
one instrument of writing, but to Fanning it was four. Also, 
it was in evidence that it was the custom for the officers in 
general to consider it as more than one. Fanning claimed that 
for registering the paper he was entitled to 6s. and some pence, 
but charged only 6s. The attorney-general, on being consulted, 
gave it as his opinion that for recording every deed a register 
was, within the meaning of the statute, entitled to 8s. 7d. 
Fanning pleaded, also, that not being certain as to this matter 
he had, on assuming his office, taken the opinion of the justices 
of the county court, who had told him that he had a right to 
6s. and some pence for every deed. This, it was claimed, 
removed from the defendant the imputation of a " tortious 
taking," and so the court held. With such a ruling there was 
nothing for the jury to do but impose a merely nominal penalty. 
The matter was referred for an opinion to the attorney- general 
of England, who gave it as his opinion that the deed in ques- 
tion entitled the register to three fees. He also stated the 
question of criminal intent so that with the facts in the case as 



See Colonial Records, VII, 847 and 884. 




AMERICAN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION. 

claimed Fanning could not legally be held guilty of extortion. 1 
The matter was also referred to a Mr. Morgan, 2 of the Inner 
Temple, whose official capacity, if he had any, is not given. 
He gave a decided verdict in favor of Fanning, stating that 
the latter was entitled to four fees, and that he could not be 
guilty any way; because he took 6s., u not with intent to extort, 
but through an involuntary mistake." He closed by advising 
that Fanning move for a new trial. 3 The whole matter was 
in a sad state, and the best remedy was, as the English attor- 
ney-general suggested, to pass an explanatory act to the fee bill. 
At the next superior court at Hillsboro, March, 1769, there 



V 



were no troops in the town and many Regulators came to prose- 
cute the officers. We have no official records of this court, 
\J but Husband tells us that the people met with small success. 
Husband himself was tried and acquitted, while Hunter's case 
was continued. 4 Fanning was tried on the same old charge. 
As the offense was committed before the previous trial, he 
made the same plea he had formerly made and was, no doubt, 
formally convicted. If we make full allowance for any exag- 
geration that Husband's bias may have led him into, it will 
still appear that the condition of affairs in the courts of jus- 
tice must have been far from good. The judge's charges were 
partial, and the jury was unreliable. 5 

In Rowan County, in the same year, the Regulators at- 
tempted to prosecute the officers for extortion. When the 
plaintiffs arrived at court they found that the grand jury was 
composed of their enemies, there being not more than three 
men on it who were not officers. They applied to William 
Hooper, recently appointed deputy attorney-general, who drew 
up a bill against John Frohock for extortion. This was re- 
turned ignoramus. Three other indictments were made out, 
but they met the same fate. The Regulators learned on good 
authority that the grand jury had been packed, the members 
sitting not being those who had been at first chosen. 6 



1 Colonial Records, VIII, 27-29. 

* Morgan seems to have been merely a consulting attorney retained in 
behalf of Fanning. 

3 Colonial Records, VIII., 33-36, 223, and 225, 226. 

4 lb., VIII, 32. 

s Wheeler, 11,323. 

6 Colonial Records, VIII, 68-70. 



REGULATORS OF NORTH CAROLINA BASSETT. 183 

The next step taken by tbe Regulators was in the line of 
practical politics. Until recently no suspicion had been cast 
upon the members of the assembly. The people were accus 
toined to leaders and willingly trusted their affairs in their 
hands. "With no widely circulating newspapers and no polit- 
ical aptness, they formed themselves into no parties, but 
usually accepted the candidate put forward by the officehold- 
ers, who was generally either a member of or closely associated 
with the officeholding class. When they first began their 
agitation the Regulators had been content to aim at the local 
officers. They were told to apply to the courts, where justice 
should be done them. They complied, and found that the laws 
were in favor of the officers. They concluded that the laws 
should be changed. At the same time, since the issue had 
been sharply defined, they saw that the assemblymen were 
ranged on the side of the county officers. They now determined 
to attack this office, and here they were more successful than 
they had been in any of their other undertakings. 

In the summer of 1769 : the governor dissolved the assem-^ 
bly and ordered the election of a new one. Immediately there 
came out in Orange an address, written perhaps by Husband, 
though not signed, which recounted the wrongs of the people, 
declared that the remedy lay with the people themselves, and 
called on all to arouse themselves from their "own blind, stu- 
pid conduct." 2 This idea, as we have seen, had taken shape in 
Anson when the Regulators had nominated Charles Robinson 
as their candidate for the assembly, making, perhaps, the first 
political nomination in America. 

The Regulator spirit was not confined to Orange, Anson, 
and Rowan. In other counties it was strong enough. Tryon, 
in 1768, stated to Lord Hillsborough that a party of 30 men 
from Edgecombe County had tried to release from Halifax jail 
an insurgent leader who was confined there, but that they had 
failed. In August of the same year a party of 80 had tried to 
break up the court of Johnston County, but they were repulsed 
also. 3 These were attempts by the rasher element of the peo- 
ple. That they were supported by such small numbers indi- 
cates that violence was not countenanced here as much as in 



1 Husband says July 10, 1768, but tbis is an error. Tbe new election 
was beld on July 18, 1769. (Of. Colonial Records, VIII, 54.) 

2 Wbeeler, II, 325-327. 

3 Colonial Records, VII, 884, 885. 



184 AMERICAN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION. 

Orange. That there was a strong feeling against the officers 
throughout the province is attested by the results of the elec- 
tion for assemblymen. Carteret, Beaufort, Anson, Halifax, Bla- 
den, Edgecombe, Tyrrell, Orange, Granvdle, and Hyde changed 
their entire delegations. 1 Other counties changed their delega- 
tions in part. Out of the 78 2 members of the new house, 43 
j were new men. 3 That all these new men represented a change 
in the political sentiments of their electors is not probable. 
Not in all the counties was the issue made. In Orange, Gran- 
ville, Anson, and Halifax, where the Begulator sentiment was 
strong, the change was complete. In Bowan, a strong Begula- 
tor couuty, Griffith Butherford, considered a moderate friend 
of the people, was retained, but his yokefellow, Frohock, was 
dropped and in his place Christopher Nation, an ardent Begu- 
lator, was returned. Perhaps the opinion of Henry Eustace 
McCulloch was but representative of the ideas of eastern 
families when he wrote from London soon after the election: 
"The madness of the people must be great, indeed, to trust 
such wretches as Hermon Husband and Christopher Nation 
as their representatives." 4 

The cause of this political change is to be found in the action 
of the assembly that met in November, 17G8. This session left 
as a memorial of its incompetency several defunct bills. One 
of these was a bill to allow the recovery of debts of less than 
£5 in value before one justice merely. This measure had been 
asked for in a petition from Orange, 5 and it was approved in 
the address to the Orange voters already mentioned. By order 
Banning brought in the bill in the lower house, and it safely 
passed its several readings, until finally on its third reading 
in the upper house it was attempted to add a "rider" to the 
effect that persons indicted for riot might be tried in any one 
of the superior courts of the province, whereupon the other 
house objected, and as each party remained steadfast the bill 

1 The list of assemblymen in Colonial Records, VIII, 106, 107, should he 
exchanged for that on pages 303, 304, as may he readily seen by compar- 
ing pages 303, 304 with pages 145-147. 

2 There were 80 members in the new house, but two of these represented 
Tryon, a county erected after the former assembly met, and they are, of 
course, not competent in such a comparison as we are now making. 

3 Husband says thirty-odd were left out this time, and he hoped to lose 
more the nest election. (Wheeler, II, 330.) 

4 Colonial Records, VIII, 183. 

5 lb., VII, 874 and 929, 911-912, 914, and 915. 



REGULATORS OF NORTH CAROLINA BASSETT. 185 

fell through. Other rejected measures that the Regulators 
would have welcomed were bills to erect a new county out of 
Orange and Johnston, and another out of Orange and Rowan; 
a bill for triennial assemblies, which was rejected in the upper 
house, 1 and a bill to relieve taxation. The last was intro- 
duced by Fanning, passed its first reading, but was killed on 
its second reading in the lower house. 2 The bills to erect 
new counties were especially desired by the people, many of 
them, as they said, having to go as far as 60 miles to attend 
court as it was. An act, however, to erect Tryon County out) 
of Mecklenburg was safely passed. The assembly was also 
concerned with providing pay for the forces that had gathered 
at Hillsboro in the preceding autumn. The province had for 
some time been trying to get an issue of paper money, but had 
been prevented by orders from the English Government. It 
now occurred to them that this was their opportunity. A bill 
was brought in voting an issue of £30,000 in paper to be used 
in paying the troops and for other purposes. The cost of the 
preceding campaign had been only £4,S44. 3 The vigorous 
protest of the governor and the upper house caused the bill 
to be recast, and it finally passed as an act authorizing the 
issue of £20,000 to pay the troops collected at Hillsboro, to 
provide for the public claims, and for the easier collection of 
taxes. 4 It was thus that the governor was induced to allow 
the passage of a bill that increased the paper currency of the 
colony to a large extent. There was one proviso, however, 
which robbed the victory of half of its fruits; it was provided 
that this paper should not be a legal tender. In writing to the 
English authorities Tryon confessed that he had been induced \ 
to sign this bill because the militia declared that if their pay 
was not forthcoming they would not assemble again at the call 
of the government. For this same reason the British Govern- 
ment approved the bill. 5 It has been claimed that the cost of 
the campaign of 1768 was a great burden to the province. So 

1 Colonial Records, VII, 911. 

2 lb., VII, 908, 961, and 962. 

3 lb., VII, 888. 

4 lb., VII, 915, 916, and VIII, 5 and 6. This amount was to pay the troops, 
to pay for running the Cherokee boundary line, to pay the charge for a 
garrison at Fort Johnston, to pay arrears of salaries, to pay the salaries, 
etc., of the assemblies of 1767 and 1768, and to provide £1,200 due for 
bounties on hemp. (lb., VII, 916.) 

* lb., VIII, 266, 267. 



186 AMERICAN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION. 

far from this being' true, it may be asserted with confidence 
that it was considered by a large class of people as a posi- 
tive blessing. 1 It afforded a welcome opportunity to increase 
the volume of currency. This assembly also voted to repay 
Rev. George Micklejohn, the Orange clergyman, for printing a 
sermon which he had preached before the troops at Hillsboro, 
and in which he had declared that the governor ought to have 
executed at least twenty of the Regulators. Such actions as 
these were calculated to arouse the opposition of those who 
were dissatisfied with the officers throughout the colony. This 
class protested. That x^rotest was measured by the political 
change in the composition of the assembly. 

Pending the meeting of the new assembly there was but 
little activity on the part of the Regulators. A few of the 
leaders, however, were not subdued. In the spring of 1769, 
when John Lea, the sheriff of Orange, went to serve a capias 
on ISTiniau Hamilton and others, he was taken by Hamilton, 
Samuel Devinney, Jesse Pugh, and their friends and severely 
thrashed. 2 The parties who did the whipping were indicted, 
and the council instructed the attorney-general to use all legal 
means to punish them. 3 In Rowan all was not serene. The 
sheriff appointed in 1769 could get no one to go on his bond, 
his friends giving the unsettled state of the county as their 
justification. 4 

The Anson Regulators prepared a petition to the assembly. 
It contained a remarkably well-prepared statement of their 
grievances, and to it were more than two hundred and fifty 
I signatures. It recounted seven kinds of political hardships 
1 and proposed seventeen points of redress. The former are but 
the grievances we have seen alleged all along. The noteworthy 
items of the latter are as follows: At all elections the vote 
should be given by ballot; taxation should be apportioned on 
a property basis and not per capita; taxes might be paid in 
commodities; paper money should be issued and loaned on 
land; debts above 40s. and under £10 should be sued for with- 
out lawyers, and before a county justice and a jury of six; the 
chief justice should have no fees, but should be given a salary; 



1 Colonial Records, VIII, 9. 
* lb., VIII, 32. 
s lb., VIII, 37. 
«Ib., VIII, 64. 



REGULATORS OF NORTH CAROLINA BASSETT. 187 

the fees of the clerks should be restricted, and the assembly 
should inform the King that the governor and council granted 
land without regard to the legal " head rights,'' x by which 
means it had come about that all the best land was in the hands 
of a few people, and poor men were obliged to cultivate poor 
land. By this means, it was alleged, members of the council 
and their friends had gotten large tracts. They asked for 
reforms in regard to quitrents, the issuing of land warrants, 
and the valuing of the improvements on land. They also 
asked that all denominations have liberty to conduct the mar 
riage ceremony according to their respective rites: and, finally, ' 
that Dr. Benjamin Franklin, or some other known patriot, be )< 
appointed agent of the colony in London. 2 

This petition, it may be said, is the nearest approach of the 
Regulation to the Revolution. Several of its proposed reforms 
hinted at a decided change in government, and. its hitting on 
Franklin for an agent looked toward bringing it into close re- 
lation with the larger movement, which it is well known that 
Franklin was then leading. The mention of this patriot's name - 
was perhaps due to Husband, who, though not a Regulator, 
was doing all he could to spread among the people a greater 
love of liberty, and who was in frequent communication with 
Franklin. It is a tribute to the wisdom of the Anson Regula- 
tors that many of these reforms were afterwards, when North 
Carolina had become a State, put into laws. 

Orange and Rowan united in another petition. It asked 
that lawyers and clerks of the court should not be allowed to 
become members of the assembly; 3 that clerks and other offi- 
cers should be paid a salary; thatlawyers should be made to 
take only their legal fees, which were to be reduced to one-half 
in compromised cases; that all clerks should be removed and 
"gentlemen of probity and integrity " put into their places; 
that ministers of all denominations might perform the marriage 
ceremony; that taxes be based on property; that small debts 
be recovered before one magistrate and a jury of six, from 



1 Fifty acres for each person brought into the colony was the legal 
amount tbat could, be granted. By law, unless in special cases, only 640 
acres could be granted to one party. (See the author's C'onstitutioual 
BegiDnings of North Carolina; Johns Hopkins University Studies, 12th 
series, p. 110, note 1.) 

2 For the petition see Colonial Records, VIII, 75-80. 

3 Sheriffs were already forbidden to be assemblymen. 



188 AMERICAN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION. 

whom there should be no appeal; that inspectors' certificates 
for the storage of imperishable commodities be made legal 
tender; that the county be divided; that the public accounts 
be investigated; and, lastly, that the "yeas" and "nays" in 
the assembly should be recorded. 1 Besides this petition the 
Rowan Regulators sent Husband a statement of their wrongs, 
and begged him, as a representative, to do what he could to 
obtain relief for them, 

A very significant petition on the other side came from the 
Presbyterians of Mecklenburg. They declare themselves a 
thousand freemen, "who hold to the Established Church of 
Scotland, able to bear arms; " that they are faithful and loyal 
subjects; that they " uphold the courts of justice that the law 
may have its free course and operation;" and, they add, "We 
appeal to his excellency the governor how ready and cheer- 
ful we were to support government in time of insurrection." 
They then go on to demand for the counties of Mecklenburg, 
Rowan, and Tryon the repeal of the vestry and marriage acts, 
so that in this region the Scottish church may be on the same . 
footing with " our sister church of England." 2 

Two other petitions are worthy of note. One came to Tryon 
from the Presbyterians of the new county of Tryon, and asked 
that the ministers of that faith be allowed to perform the mar- 
riage rites. 3 The other came from twenty-five "friends of 
government," as Tryon had called them on a former occasion, 
and asked that an inspector of hemp and tobacco be appointed 
for Hillsboro. It was signed by such antiregulating spirits 
as Francis Nash, Rev. Henry Patillo, Ralph McNair, and Capt. 
James Thackston. 4 

The assembly met on the 23d of October. 5 In his message 
the governor informed them that a petition of the former 
assembly to the King, asking for an issue of paper money, had 

1 Colonial Records, VIII, 81-84. 

2 lb., X, 1015-1017. 

3 lb., VIII, 806. 
* lb., VIII, 80a. 

6 Fanning was recognized as a member of this assembly, but by what 
right it is difficult to imagine. (Colonial Records, VIII, 107. ) He had been 
defeated in the preceding election, and although Tryon created the bor- 
ough of Hillsboro that he might be returned from it, this was not done 
until 1770. (lb., VIII, 215-217.) His connection with this ..assembly was 
short, however, for he soon set out on a visit to New York. 



REGULATORS OF NORTH CAROLINA BASSETT. 189 

been unsuccessful, and urged thern to regulate iu a business- 
like manner the nietliod of keeping the public accounts. 1 The 
upper house kissed the governor's hand with accustomed facil- 
ity, but the reply of the lower house was curt and a little 
surly. 2 Bills to regulate attorneys' fees and to provide an 
easy means of recovering small debts were introduced at once, 
but their course was cut off by an event unrelated to them. 
Ou November 2 the lower house passed unanimously some 
spirited resolutions on the cpiestions then at issue between the 
Colonies and the Eoyal Government. 3 On November C Tryon, 
who had been ill, called the assembly to him, expressed his 
disapproval of the resolutions, and dissolved the body. Only 
five bills w r ere passed, and these were of no constitutional sig- 
nificance. 4 Just before it adjourned the lower house passed a 
resolution declaring that any person who opposed the due col- 
lection of taxes should be rigorously prosecuted as an enemy 
of the country; and~nt the same time it declared in another 
resolution that any officer who should take more than the law- 
ful fee should have the censure of the house. 5 Four days later 
the council decided to issue writs for a new election in the 
following March. 6 

The result of the elections of 1770 shows a slight reaction in 
favor of the friends of government, although it seems that the 
majority of the assembly were of Eegulating spirit. 7 Husband 
and Pryor were reelected from Orange, and to repair the loss 
of Fanning, the governor erected Hillsboro into a borough, 
from which Fanning was promptly returned. 8 

As soon as the assembly met it took up the work of reform. 
Some progress was in a fair way of being made when the whole 
legislative body was thrown into terror by news from Hills- 
boro. The Eegulators in that section had become well-nigh 

1 Colonial Records, VIII, 86-89. 

2 lb., VIII, 91, 92 and 113-115. 

3 For these resolves see Colonial Records, VIII, 122. 

4 lb., VIII, 139-141 and 170, 171. 

5 lb., VIII, 139. 

6 lb., VIII, 150, 151. 

7 lb., VIII, 270. 

8 lb., VIII, 215. The Regulators claimed that it was due to Thomas 
Hart that Fanning was elected. Hart was rewarded by having a bill 
passed giving him £1,000 for losses, which, it was said, Hart never sus- 
tained (Carutbers's Life of Caldwell, p. 117; see also Colonial Records, 
VIII, 230). 






\^y 



190 AMERICAN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION. 

desperate. They had tried petitions to the governor and the 
assembly, and they had tried the courts. From neither had 
they gotten relief. During the summer of 1770 they prepared 
a petition to the officers of the superior court iu which they 
again recounted their wrongs. 1 They prayed for unprejudiced 
juries, for fair trials of the extortionate officers, and for a 
proper settlement of the public accounts by the sheriffs. The 
frame of mind to which they had come is best shown by the 
following sentence: 

Our only crime with which they can charge us is vertue in the very 
highest degree, namely, to risque our all to save our country from rapine 
and slavery in our detecting of practices which the law itself allows to be 
worse than open robbery. * * As we are serious and in good earnest, 

and the cause respects the whole body of the people, it would be a loss of 
time to enter into argument on particular points, for though there is a few 
men who have the gift or art of reasoning, yet every man has a feeling 
and knows when he has justice done him as well as the most learned.' 2 

This had an ominous sound. 

The superior court at Hillsboro met on September 22, which 
was Saturday. On that day James Hunter presented the 
above-mentioned petition to Eichard Henderson, the only 
justice who was on the bench at that term. The matter was 
deferred till the following Monday. On Monday the court had 
hardly met when about 150 Regulators, among whom were 
Hunter, Howell, Husband, Butler, Hamilton, and Devinney, 
crowded into the room. Jeremiah Fields, one of their number, 
rose and asked the court for leave to speak. Permission was 
given, and Fields began by saying that the Regulators had 
understood that the judge had decided not to try their causes 
at that term ;. that they were determined to have them tried, 
and that if the court would take them up it might prevent 
mischief. They insisted, also, that the jury that had been 
selected by the county court should be changed. After about 
half an hour of this talk, during which the judge tried to 
pacify them, they retired from the room for consultation. 
They nearly all carried switches or sticks, and while they stood 
around the court-house an unfortunate lawyer, John Williams, 3 

' Colonial Records, VIII, 231-234. 

2 lb., VIII, p. 234. 

3 Williams, judging by entries on the docket, received a good share of 
the business at this court. He was probably the same lawyer with whom 
we afterwards find Nash transacting business (ib., IX, 363), when he appears 
as Col. John Williams. If so, be made his borne in Surrey, and later moved 



REGULATORS OF NORTH CAROLINA BASSETT. 191 

started to enter the building. This was too much for the 
angered crowd. They fell upon him and administered a severe 
thrashing until he took refuge in a neighboring house. Peace- 
ful methods were now cast aside. The crowd rushed into the 
court-house for Fanning, who, in terror, sought for protection on 
the bench. This did not help him. They seized him, dragged 
him into the street, and beat him until he, as Richard Hender- 
son said, "by a manly exertion miraculously broke holt and 
fortunately jumped into a door that saved him from immediate 
dissolution." From this retreat he was brought out, but was 
allowed to go to his home on his promise to surrender himself 
the following morning. Thomas Hart, Michael Holt, Alex- 
ander Martin, " and many others" were also whipped. Several 
who were wanted saved themselves by flying. 

The next morning Fanning gave himself up. The Regula- 
tors, after some deliberation, announced to him that they would 
release him on condition that he would agree to take the road 
and keep running till he was out of sight, conditions with 
which he most likely complied in a satisfactory manner. They 
tben repaired to his new and pretentious dwelling, which was 
especially detestable to them as being built out of what they 
held to be illegal fees. They surrounded it, burned the papers, 
broke the furniture found in it, and finally demolished the 
structure. It was charged that they took a sum cf money from 
it, but this they emphatically and indignantly denied. 1 

]STo indignity had been offered to the judge, except some 
threats by the more unruly of the crowd. In the beginning 
James Hunter had assured him he should be protected. In the 
afternoon of Monday he was allowed to adjourn court until 
next day, and was then escorted, with some parade, to his 
lodging. The Regulators demanded that he should proceed 



to Tennessee. (lb., IX, 370, and Wheeler, II, 409. ) His going to Tennessee 
was due to his appointment as agent for the company which in 1774-75 
was attempting to organize the Transylvania tract. (Colonial Records, X, 
256, 382.) 

1 Colonial Records, VIII, 260. In 1773 Fanning was suing to recover 
damages for this loss. He was induced by Governor Martin to withdraw 
his suits and trust to an appeal to the assembly. Martin made the ap- 
peal. The lower house replied that to pay the claim would create discon- 
tent in the back counties, and refused to vote indemnity. The governor 
protested, pleading his promise to Fanning, but the assembly remained 
unmoved. (Colonial Records, IX, 548, 551-552, 560-562.) 



192 AMERICAN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION. 

with their cases, without allowing any lawyers but the attorney - 
generalin the courtroom, and that the jury should be changed. 
The judge promised this with alacrity, but about 10 o'clock at 
night he mounted a fast horse and quietly stole away, leaving 
the court adjourned in course. 1 After venting their fury on 
Fanning's property, the crowd, seeing that the judge was 
gone, went to the court room, secured the docket, and called 
over the cases, entering their own judgment or comments 
on each case. There on the pages one finds to this day the 
memorials of their futile protest against what they knew was 
wrong, but knew not how to remedy. One reads such expres- 
sions as the following: "Damned rogue;" "Fanning must 
pay;" " Hogau pays and be damned,-" "Fanning pays, but 
loses nothing; " "Judgment by default, the money must come 
of the officers." 2 

Whatever we may think of the justness of the cause of the 
Regulators, we must readily agree that their conduct on this 
occasion was illegal. As it turned out, they could do nothing 
but" obstruct the court. The fault lay in the system of govern- 
ment in force in the colony. With such a strongly centralized 
government, there was no avenue by which the people had 
access to reform. The ideas of government held by the royal 
agents and their numberless hangers-on who swooped down on 
the defenseless colonists made it impossible that these agents 
should ever understand even the point of view of the protest- 
ing people. Their action here can but seem like a mad rush 
against fate. The people seem so to have regarded it. In 
1768 from three to four thousand had come down to rescue the 
two prisoners, but now not so many hundred took part in the 
proceedings. 

News of this trouble sent a chill of fear throughout the 
province. The officers in Orange asked that the assembly be 
convened at once, 3 and the attorney-general advised the same 
thing, 4 but inasmuch as that body was already to meet on 
November 30, and as Fanning reported the country quiet, the 
council decided that there was no need for an extra session. 

' We have here followed chiefly the narrative of Richard Henderson, 
which hears evidence of heing impartial in its essential points. (Colonial 
Records, VIII, 241-244.) 

2 lb., VIII, 236-240. 

3 lb., VIII 246, 247. 

4 lb., V.III, 252.- 



REGULATORS OF NORTH CAROLINA BASSETT. 193 

The governor asked the attorney-general to say whether or not 
the action of the Hillsboro mob could be dealt with as treason. 
The reply was in the negative. All that could be made of the 
case was a riot and, because it was an insult to the court, a 
misdemeanor. It was pointed out that, under existing law it 
was necessary to try the offenders in the superior court district 
in which they resided, where, it was evident, no process could 
be served on account of the feeling of the country. It wasi 
suggested that in each county the militia be mustered in 
order to learn who would serve against the insurgents. 1 This 
suggestion was adopted by the council. 2 Also the justices of 
the peace throughout the province were commanded by proc- 
lamation to take and transmit to the governor all depositions 
that might be had in connection with the above disorders. 

To add to the alarm felt by the government at Newbern 
there came the tidings of another outrage. In Granville, on 
the night of the 12th of November, Richard Henderson's barn 
and stables were burned, and two nights later his dwelling was 
also destroyed. It was believed by the government party that 
the Eegulators had fired these buildings. Straight upon the 
heels of this report came the rumor that the insurgents were 
preparing to come down to Newbern at the coming session 
of the assembly in order to overawe it. The panic-stricken 
council offered a reward for the discovery of the incendiaries 
and called on the counties intervening between Hillsboro and 
Newbern to hold their militia in readiness to intercept the 
threatened march. 3 Eleven days after this happened the assem- 
bly was called to convene, but it was only on December 5 that 
a quorum was present. On the day before this a report came 
from Pitt County that the Regulators of Bute and Johnston 
were marching on ISTewbern to prevent Fanning from taking 
his seat for the pocket borough of Hillsboro. The council, 
trembling with terror, called out the Craven regiment to guard 
the town. 4 i 

While these reports were flying the assembly met. 5 Born as "V + 

1 Colonial Records, VIII, 251, 252. 

2 lb., VIII, 253. 

3 lb., VIII, 258-260. 

4 lb., VIII, 262. Newborn was in Craven County. 

5 Caruthers prints a story, which is possibly true, though the record* do 
not mention it. It was to the effect that when Husband went to the 
assembly he carried with him the amount which the Regulators claimed 
was their just taxes. When his name was called the governor asked why 

H. Mis. 91 13 



194 AMERICAN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION. 

it was in terror, it is not surprising that it should have passed 
away in blood. Its first object of vengeance was Husband, 
who was one of the members from Orange. He was pounced 
on for a circular letter addressed to Maurice Moore, one of the 
associate justices of the superior courts and a member of the 
assembly. This letter was signed "James Hunter," but Hus- 
band was declared to have written it. It was branded as "a 
false and seditious libel,' 1 and Husband was charged with pub- 
lishing it. Other charges against him were falsehood before 
the committee on propositions and grievances, and a threat that 
if imprisoned he would bring down his friends to release him. 
The result was that Husband was expelled the house. 1 The 
council thereupon sent for the minutes of the assembly, and, 
satisfying themselves as to the expulsion of Husband, unani- 
mously resolved that it would be disastrous for him to rejoin 
the Eegulators. They requested the chief justice to have him 
arrested, which was accordingly done. 2 

This was not what had been expected. Iredell says that on 
December 15 the "majority of the house were of Regulating 
principles." 3 Then why were they so easily influenced ? This 
change was wrought by two agencies: (1) Fear, incident to the 
alarming reports that, whether true or false, were brought to 
Newbern; and (2) an agreement with the Presbyterians by 
which a college was to be chartered in Mecklenburg County, and 
by which Presbyterian ministers might perform the marriage 
ceremony, 4 in exchange for the support of that denomination 
in measures against the Regulators. 5 The majority did not go 
over entirely to the other side. They still held to their position 
of regulating the abuses of government, but they joined the 

the King's subjects in Orange had not paid their taxes. Husband replied 
that the people owed his excellency, as they believed, so much butter, but, 
as that was apt to stick to the fingers to prevent waste they had sent it by 
their representative, who was ready to pay it to the treasurer if he could 
get the proper receipt. He then walked to the speaker's table and, placing 
a bag of coin on it, said: "Here are the taxes which are refused to your 
sheriff." (Cf. Life of Caldwell, pp. 134, 135.) 

1 Colonial Records, VIII, 268, 269, and 330, 331. 

2 lb., VIII, 269, 270. 

3 lb., VIII, 270. 

4 lb., VIII, 486 and 526. 

s Jhis is generally charged by all the writers on the subject, and the facts 
of the case make the charge a probable one. (See Colonial Records, VIII, 
527. % 



REGULATORS OF NORTH CAROLINA BASSETT. 195 

governor's side in passing- a bill against the illegal acts of the 
Regulators. On this point their position was enunciated in 
their reply to the governor's message. They said: "The late 
daring and insolent attack made on the superior court at 
Hillsboro by the people who call themselves Regulators we 
hold in the utmost detestation and abhorrence." ' 

On December 15 Samuel Johnston, of Chowan, one of the 
oldest counties, brought in a bill for suppressing riots. It was 
an emergency law and was to expire in one year. It gave tbe 
attorney-general authority to try charges of riot in any supe- 
rior court as he saw fit, declared outlaws those who avoided 
for sixty days the summonses of this court, 2 aud authorized the 
governor to call out the militia to enforce the law. 3 As soon 
as this bill was read it was tabled, and the house immediately 
appointed a committee to prepare a bill regulating officers' 
fees. 4 All efforts were then bent to passing reformatory laws, 
until, on December 31, the Regulators themselves precipitated 
action. On that day it was reported that a large body of Regu- 
lators were assembled with wagons and provisions at Cross 
Creek preparatory to marching on Newbern. The governor 
asked for an appropriation to meet the attack and received 
£500 to protect the town. 5 Two days later the lower house 
took from the table Johnston's riot bill and pushed it so rap- 
idly that just a week later it was passed for the third time by 
the upper house and ordered to be engrossed. 6 At the same 
time the committee on propositions and grievances reported at 
length on the state of the country. They condemned extor- 
tionate fees, denounced as "a real grievance" the opposition of 
the Regulators to the sheriffs and the courts, and recom- 
mended that the leaders of the insurgents be brought to sum- 



1 Colonial Records, VIII, 312. 

2 Such an outlaw might be killed with impunity. It was this feature, 
and not, as Saunders seemed to have thought, the entire law, that the 
English Government objected to. They declared that it was not fit for 
the British Kingdom, and, although they thought some severe law might 
be justified in the condition of affairs in North Carolina, they still advised 
the assembly, if it intended to reenact the law, to leave out this clause. 
(Colonial Records, IX, 238, 248, 285, 289, and 366. ) The law expired in a 
year and was not renewed. 

3 The text of the act is given in Colonial Records, VIII, 481-486. 

4 lb., VIII, 319, 320 and 270. 
6 lb., VIII, 345-346. 

6 lb., VIII, 356, 388 and 390. 



196 AMERICAN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION. 

mary punishment. 1 The legislature then went on to pass a bill 
to amend the act for appointing sheriffs and to direct their 
duty in office; a bill to ascertain attorneys' fees; an act more 
strictly to regulate officers' fees; an act for the more speedy 
collection of debts under £5; an act to grant the chief justice 
a salary, and acts to erect the counties of Wake, Guilford, 
Chatham, and Surry, all lying in the region infected with the 
Regulator spirit. All these laws contained reforms sought by 
the Regulators. 2 

Tryou did not wait to see what effect these laws would have. 
The first law he signed was the riot law. He at once ordered 
the arrest of the leaders of the mob concerned in the Hillsboro 
riots. Had he waited for a time the new laws might have 
worked the reform that was necessary to quiet the discon- 
tented. Four days after the act was ratified he informed the 
council that the Regulators were still assembling in Orange, 
and asked for counsel. He was advised to call a special term 
of the court of oyer and terminer at Newbern under the recent 
act. This court met on February 2, 1771. It first took up the 
case of Husband, who had lain in the jail at Newbern since 
his arrest on December 20, 1770, no one, as Tryon said, offer- 
ing to go on his bond. 3 The case went to the grand jury, who 
found "no bill," and the prisoner was released. 4 

Tryon's procedure in this matter has been pronounced ex post 
facto. There is in his favor this modifying circumstance: The 
act in question was not a new law in the strict sense; it was 
merely an attempt to make more effective the English riot law, 
which held in all the British colonies. No new offense was 
created by it, but only the method of procedure was changed. 
The fact that the whole provincial judiciary supported the 
governor in his position indicates that it was generally con- 
sidered a good law at that time. The point at which the gov- 
ernor is most at a disadvantage is that he should have kept 
Husband in prison for so long a time on a charge which the 
grand jury at once pronounced insufficient. 5 The people of 

1 Colonial Records, VIII, 388, 389. 

3 For list of bills passed see Colonial Records, VIII, 428, 429, and 477, 478. 

3 lb., VIII, 494. 

4 lb., VIII, 511, 546. ' 

5 The records show plainly that Husband was imprisoned really to keep 
him away from the Regulators. The charge of libel was merely a subter- 
fuge, (lb., VIII, 269.) 



REGULATOES OF NORTH CAROLINA BASSETT. 197 

Orange were convinced of the injustice of the imprisonment, 
and when the prisoner was released they had already assembled 
to march to Newbern in order to liberate him. When they re- 
ceived the news that he was at large they quietly dispersed. 1 
This had caused a paroxysm of terror, and the government had 
hastily called out the regiments of Dobbs, Johnston, and Wake 
counties. 

Tryon, as he says, was not satisfied with the temper of the 
grand jury just mentioned and was " unpleased with the 
discharge of Husband." He dismissed that term of the court 
and called another for March 11. The sheriffs of the several 
counties in the district were directed to select as jurymen only 
" gentlemen of the first rank, property, and probity in their 
respective counties." 2 This the governor admits with the 
frankness that indicates that he considered his attempt to 
influence the course of justice as within his prerogative. By 
strenuous efforts witnesses were also brought down from 
Orange. As a result everyone of the sixty-two indictments 
that were presented was returned "a true bill." 3 The wit- 
nesses that went before the grand jury in these cases were all 
on one side, most of them being officers. The riot law declared 
that these defendants would be considered outlaws if they did 
not appear for trial within sixty days. Accordingly another 
court was called for two months later, and to it these bills 
were made returnable. 

This grand jury was composed, as Tryon wrote, "of the most 
respectable persons," that is to say, of the colonial aristocracy. 
They met the governor by appointment in the palace and 
" unanimously and thankfully accepted" his offer to go at the 
head of an armed force to suppress the insurgents. At the 
same time they signed the " association " 4 themselves. The 
gentlemen on the Cape Fear River entered into " an associa- 
tion of similar purpose and intent." 5 

In the meantime energetic preparations were made for a 

1 Colonial Records, VIII, 500. 

2 The juries of the superior court were chosen from names sent in by the 
sheriffs of the counties in the superior court district. 

3 For lists of indictments and of witnesses see Colonial Records, VIII, 
530-532. 

4 The association was an agreement of loyalists, bound by oaths, that 
they would support the King's Government in the colony. (Cf. Colonial 
Records, VIII, 549.) 

5 lb., VIII, 546-548. 



198 AMERICAN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION. 

military expedition to Orange. Two columns were to move at 
once on Hillsboro. One of these was to be composed of the 
men of the Oape Fear section under the command of Gen. 
Hugh Waddell. It was to march first to Salisbury and thence 
to Hillsboro, where it was to be joined to the second column, 
which was to be commanded by the governor in person, and 
was to march directly from Newbern to that place. Try on was 
distinctively a military man and no doubt delighted in the 
work now before him. He was the more anxious to make the 
expedition a success inasmuch as it was likely to be his last 
official action in the province. In February he had been ap- 
pointed governor of New York, with instructions to proceed at 
once to his new post of duty. ! 

Love of canrpaigning was not Tryon's only reason for this 
expedition. During March a letter from Rednap Howell to 
James Hunter, both leading Regulators, had been intercepted. 
In this it was stated that it would have been no trouble to 
raise the country in the region of Halifax for the release of Hus- 
band; that the Regulation was about to be established there, 
and that if once there it would soon run into Edgecombe, Bute, 
and Northampton counties. Howell also wrote that he was 
told that the militia of Craven and Dobbs would not fight 
against the Regulators. 2 He had heard that the clerks' places 
in the new counties "are parceled out among the quality; 
* * * but if you suffer any rascal to come there may eter- 
nal oppression be your lot." He closed by saying: "However, 
if this be true, the day is ours in spite of Lucifer. I give out 
here that the Regulators are determined to whip everyone that 
goes to law, or will not pay his just debts, 3 or will not agree to 
leave his cause to men where disputes [sic]; that they will 
choose representatives, but not send them to be put in jail; in 
short, to stand in defiance, and as to thieves, to drive them out 
of the country." However friendly one may be to the Regu- 
lators, he must see in this a movement which the British Gov- 
ernment of the time could not allow to proceed. At the same 
time the chief justice and his associates in reply to an inquiry 
reported: "We submit it to your excellency as our opinion 



1 Colonial Records, VIII, 498. 

2 He was misled in this respect, as these counties furnished considerable 
detachments in the campaign that was then beginning. 

:i Au illustration of the Regulators' method of doing justice may be bad 
by consulting the Colonial Records, X, 1018, 101'J. 



REGULATORS OF NORTH CAROLINA BASSETT. 199 

that we caii not attend" the March term of the Hillsboro 
court "with any hopes of transacting the business of it, or, 
indeed, with any prospects of personal safety to ourselves." 
These two letters were read to the council, and it was resolved 
that the governor should immediately raise a body of militia 
and march against the insurgents. 1 

As indicated by Howell's letter, the spirit of the Regulators 
was more defiant than ever. Their meetings were kept up 
with much restlessness. On March C Waigh still Avery, a 
lawyer of note, came upon one of these assemblages, contain- 
ing more than 200 men. in Rowan. These people, disappointed 
in the revenge they had expected in releasing Husband, had 
now turned their steps toward Salisbury court. 2 Avery was 
arrested and held some hours in their camp. He heard their 
dire threats against the officers. They swore that since the 
riot law was passed they would kill every clerk and lawyer. 
They declared that the governor was a friend of the lawyers, 
that the assembly had worsted the Regulation and that they 
would pay no fees. They seemed especially angry at Maurice 
Moore and Richard Henderson, and declared that after the 
22d of March Fanning should be considered an outlaw, whom 
any Regulator might kill on sight. To all these statements 
Avery made affidavits 

Rowan court was then in session and it was so alarmed that 
it adjourned and the loyal militia of the county was called 
out. Three companies responded, and these were afterwards 
joined by 70 or 80 men from Mecklenburg. This was a small 
defense against the force the Regulators could bring, and the 
neutrals cried out for relief from this constant recurrence of 
terrorism. The officers decided to capitulate. It was agreed 
to leave the matter at issue to arbitrators, and that if these 
should decide that illegal fees had been taken the officers 
should refund the excess. The Regulators chose as referees 
Herinon Husband, James Graham, James Hunter, and Thomas 
Person. The other side chose Matthew Locke, John Kerr, 
Samuel Young, and James Smith. Alexander Martin and 
John Frohock reported the matter to Tryon. Their eagerness 
to put the matter before him in a favorable light is apparent. 

1 Colonial Records, VIII, 536-539. 

2 lb., VIII, 534. 

3 For Avery's affidavit see Colonial Records, VIII, 518-520. 



200 AMERICAN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION. 

They said they felt confident of his approval. 1 If they meant 
this they were rudely disappointed. Tryon wrote with fine 
sarcasm that of course if they had abused their trust they 
ought to make restitution. To that he was entirely willing, 
hut he did not approve of their action in entering into nego- 
tiations with insurgents and binding officers who were respon- 
sible to government alone. He added that he was about to 
march with an army into the country of the Regulators, and 
he thought this would be a more effective means of settlement 
than the Rowan agreement. 2 The arbitrators were to have 
met on May 21, but the battle of Alamance coming on the 
10th, the result was in favor of Tryon's method. 3 

The Regulators for their part protested to the governor 
against raising an army to produce commotions. They said 
they had resolved that if he did come every man would take 
his horse from his plow and meet the governor " to know for 
certain whether you are really determined to suppress all the 
disturbers of the public peace and to punish according to their 
deserts the original offenders in government." If so, they 
would help him, but if he designed to support "that tyranny 
which has so long been premeditated by some officers of the 
province we will contend for our just rights and humbly entreat 
you, sir, to return with your men where there may be more 
need of them — our civil liberties are certainly more dear to us 
than the good opinion of a ruler, though both are desirable." 
They accused the assembly of violating the British constitu- 
tion in that they " paid very little regard to that bulwark of 
life, the habeas corpus, when they enacted for a law the court 
of oyer, to be held at ]STewberne for the trial of riots, where the 
accused persons must attend, though living in the most remote 
parts of the province." 4 

Tryon paid no attention to this protest, but continued to levy 
troops. On March 19 he called on the colonels of the counties 
to secure volunteers. He gave orders to raise 2,550 men. 5 

i Colonial Records, VIII, 533-536. 

2 Ib., VIII, 545. 

3 It was told to Caruthers that such a meeting did actually take place 
in West Guilford and that restitution was made there. Another meeting 
was arranged for East Guilford, but failed to occur for the same reason 
that the Rowan meeting failed. (Cf. Life of Caldwell, p. 143.) 
•» Colonial Records, VIII, 543, 544. 

sib., VIII, 697. 



REGULATORS OF NORTH CAROLINA BASSETT. 201 

To get these was not an easy thing. In Bute not a man could 
be enlisted. 1 According to Howell other counties were reluc- 
tant. A bounty of 40s. was offered to each volunteer, and this 
had its effect. The 20th of April was fixed as the day on which 
the eastern column should leave Newbern. 2 Three days later 
than that the march began. When the body had reached 
Johnston Court House there were present detachments from 
Craven, Carteret, Orange, Beaufort, New Hanover, Onslow, 
Dobbs, and Johnston, 3 besides an artillery company. At this 
place the Wake militia presented themselves, but with no 
arms. This seems to have been a ruse to keep from serving. 
A smaller detachment, however, joined the army next day and 
was detailed to assist the sheriff in collecting taxes in Wake. 4 
The majority of this force came from Orange and Dobbs, each 
having four companies. Craven came next with three. In all 
there were 917 rank and file and 151 officers. 5 The western 
column, which at that time was going its allotted course under 
General Waddell, contained 230 rank and file and 18 officers, 
besides an artillery company. They came from Anson. Rowan, 
Mecklenburg, and Tryon counties. 6 

On May 9 the governor reached Hillsboro without any 
inconvenience. On the same day General Waddell, who had 
just left Salisbury, crossed the Yadkin, where he was met and 
stopped by a large body of Regulators. 7 A council of officers 
decided that in view of the numerical superiority of the enemy, 
and because their own men could not be relied on to fire on 



1 Colonial Records, VIII, 552. The colonel was removed from command 
of this militia hecanse he did not raise volunteers. (lb., 671, 672.) 

2 lb., VIII, 540,541. 
3 lb., VIII, 574. 

4 lb., VIII, 577. 

fi After the battle of Alamance the detachment from Wake and a com- 
pany of light infantry rejoined with 100 rank and file and 16 officers. 
(Colonial Records, VIII, 677.) The order of battle seems to contradict this, 
(lb., 583-584.) 

6 lb., VIII, 607. 

7 Caruthers says that the Regulators surrounded Waddell and took many 
of his men and that he finally escaped across the Yadkin to Salisbury 
with but few followers. (Life of Caldwell, p. 145.) Neither Waddell's 
own journal nor Tryou's reports of the campaign mention anything 
which could be construed into such an occurrence. Caruthers's informa- 
tion was verbal and was secured seventy years after the events described. 
He was doubtless misinformed. 



202 AMERICAN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION. 

them, it would be prudent to fall back to Salisbury. This they 
did. 1 This column had been seriously hampered by the loss 
of its ammunition. Nine young men, later known as "The 
Black Boys of Cabarrus," disguised themselves and fell upon 
a convoy that was taking some powder from South Carolina to 
General Waddell, beat off the guards, and burnt the powder. 2 

On May 11 Tryon moved from Hillsboro in order to relieve 
his beleaguered lieutenant. His route took him through the 
heart of the country of the Regulators. He halted on Sunday 
at Colonel Mebane's for divine service and then marched to 
Haw River, where he was joined by 23 mounted men under 
Captain Bullock. This constituted his sole cavalry. 3 For the 
sake of justice or of discipline, or for policy, he issued strict 
orders against the taking of property by the soldiers, an abuse 
that was getting frequent now they were among their foes. 
On the 11th he reached the banks of the Alamance. Here he 
rested a day, and on the ICth formed his army in line of battle 
and marched to find the enemy, who were assembled about 
5 miles farther on. He had formed his army into two lines 
about 200 yards apart. In the first were the companies from 
Carteret, Orange, Beaufort, and New Hanover, and three com- 
panies from Dobbs, as well as the artillery. In the second 
were the companies from Onslow and Johnston and the remain- 
ing company from Dobbs. 4 Two companies from Orange and 
a number of sick had been left at Hillsboro, and a small com- 
pany had been left to guard the camp on the Alamance. It is 
likely, therefore, that the army contained on that morning 
some less than 1,000 men and officers. 

The Regulators in the meantime had assembled to the num- 
ber of 2,000. It is difficult to say how many of these had 
arms. Caruthers thinks that not over 1,000 had them. They 
had neither definite aims nor efficient organization. Their 
leaders seem to have thought that by making a show of force 
they would frighten the governor into granting their demands. 
They had much trouble in holding the people under restraint. 
There was a considerable element in their camp that could 

1 Colonial Records, VIII, 608 and 610. 

2 lb., VIII, 622; Wheeler, II, 65. 
» lb., VIII, 581. 

4 In this arrangement the company from Pitt was mentioned. This nnist 
have been an error, as the return shows no such company in the expedi- 
tion. (See Colonial Records, VIII, 583, 584, and 677. 



REGULATORS OF NORTH CAROLINA BASSETT. 203 

not be kept quiet. These, against the wishes of the leaders, 
caught Col. John Ashe and Captain Walker on the morning 
of the 15th, while they were out scouting, and whipped them 
severely. This action, says Caruthers, "was strongly cen- 
sured by the great body of the Regulators, and some of them 
were so much disgusted that they threatened to give up the 
cause entirely if such acts were repeated." 1 The two men 
were, however, held prisoners. 

On the same day Dr. Caldwell, who had come along in the 
interest of peace, went to Tryon in reference to an agreement 
on the points at issue. A petition was also sent. Possibly 
Dr. Caldwell carried it. 2 He was promised a reply the next 
morning. On the 16th, as the army was put into motion to 
move up to the Eegulators, the reply was sent. It offered no 
concession, but required that the people should submit to gov- 
ernment and disperse, and gave them an hour in which to 
comply with the conditions. 3 The ill-fated people seem not to 
have realized their position. They remained waiting while 
Dr. Caldwell again sought the governor. They had not the 
least idea of what a battle was, and when their envoy returned 
to report his failure and to advise them to go to their homes 
they stood stolidly in their places. Husband, who, true to his 
attitude as peacemaker, had come along hoping to help make 
a compromise, now saw that there was no hope and quietly 
rode away. 4 Dr. Caldwell sadly did the same. So uncon- 
scious were the men of their danger that they were engaged 
in wrestling matches, when an old soldier who happened to be 
among them advised them to look out for a volley. It was but 
a few minutes before the firing began. Just how the first 
shot was fired is matter of dispute. All agree that it came 
from the governor's side. r> 

iLifeof Caldwell, p. 147. 
2 Colonial Records. VIII, 640, 641. 
. 3 Ib, VIII, 642. 

4 Knowing Ms danger, Husband fled to his old home in Maryland. Not 
stopping long there, he went on to Western Pennsylvania, where he made 
his future home. He was concerned in the whisky rebellion and was 
taken and condemned to death for his part in it. Through the interposi- 
tion of friends he was pardoned, and died a few day afterwards at a 
tavern in Philadelphia. (Caruthers's Life of Caldwell, pp. 167, 168.) 

5 The story of the battle as told by Tryon's friends may be found in 
Colonial Records, X, 1019-1022. This account seems to have been inline 
with that of the eaiiv historians of the State. 



204 AMERICAN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION. 

Tlie Regulators bad no officer higher than captain, and each 
company now took command of itself. At first there was 
much confusion on their side, the artillery fire being very 
effective. Some hardy men, however, crouched behind rocks 
and trees and managed to drive away the gunners and to take 
the guns. They were not supported by their own party, and 
when the troops rallied against them they abandoned the pieces, 
which they had not been able to work. Long before this the 
remaining Regulators had taken to flight, and now the field 
was clear. 1 The action had lasted two hours, and the loyalists 
had lost killed and Gl wounded, 2 while the loss of the Regu- 
lators was 9 killed and a great number wounded. 3 About 15 
were taken prisoners. One of these, James Few, 4 was executed 
on the spot. He was a visionary man, who had been active in 
the Regulation. His execution was ordered with the idea of 
striking terror to the country. It was needlessly summary, as 
the movement was already crushed. 

On the 21st the troops marched to Sandy Creek, where the 
governor remained a week collecting supplies from the people 
and imposing an oath of allegiance on them. On the day after 
the battle he pardoned by proclamation all those who should 
submit themselves to government and take the oath of alle- 
giance, except those who were already captured and those who 
had recently been outlawed. 5 This proclamation was for four 
days, but it was extended at various times until all the country 
had an opportunity to take it. 6 The British Government gave 
its heartiest approval to the course that Tryon had pursued, 

1 We have followed for the chief events of the battle Caruthers's Life of 
Caldwell, pp. 145-158. 

2 The Regulators put this number higher, but these figures are official. 
(Colonial Records, VIII, 634.) 

3 This is the Regulators' own statement. Others vary. (See Life of 
Caldwell, p. 157.) 

4 Few had been indicted and consequently outlawed for participation 
in the Hillsboro riots. He was a carpenter, and lived just outside of 
Hillsboro. It is said that his mind had become unbalanced because 
Fanning had seduced the young woman to whom he was affianced. 
(Caruthers's Life of Caldwell, p. 158.) Fanning insisted that he should be 
executed on the spot because he had taken part in the destruction of his 
(Fanning's) house. The Regulators claimed that Few was not present 
when the house was destroyed. This claim, however, was not advanced 
by the most reliable authority. (Cf. Colonial Records, VIII, 648.) 

fl Colonial Records, VIII, 608, 609. There is no evidence that any of the 
cixty-two indictments of the court held at Newbern had come to trial. 
6 Ib., VIII, 613. About 6,000 had taken it on July 4; lb., IX, 9. 



REGULATORS OF NORTH CAROLINA BASSETT. 205 

and directed liim to tender publicly the King's thanks to the 
troops fur their loyal conduct during the campaign. 

On May 29 the army moved westward. On June 4 it was 
joined by General Waddell's column, and on June the united 
forces celebrated at the Moravian settlement the King's birth 
day and the recent victory. 1 On June 9 they marched away 
to Hillsboro, where they arrived on the 14th. Four days later 
a court-martial tried the prisoners. Some were convicted- of 
treason. On the next day the army was drawn up to wit- 
ness the execution of six of these. The other six were par- 
doned by the English Government at the request of Tryon. 3 
On the 8th of June General Waddell had led his forces back 
by the way he hac\ come, and now, with the prisoners hanged 
as an example, nothing remained to be done but to march the 
governor's column back to Newbern. 4 This task Tryon left 
to Ashe. He himself hastened to Newbern, where on the 30th / 
of June he embarked for his new government, and with his 
exit there disappeared the war of the Kegulation. 

Two features of this campaign should have further notice. 
One relates to the trial and execution of the six prisoners. 
This has been called cruel. All punishment is cruel. Looked 
at from Tryon's standpoint the prisoners were rebels. They 
were executed as traitors. It was hoped that their death 
would strike terror to the Regulators, and this seems to have 
been accomplished. They were tried at a special term of the 
superior court. 3 Two were acquitted and twelve condemned. 
One of those executed was Benjamin Merrill, formerly a 
captain in the Eowan militia. He died repenting his con- 
nection with the Regulation, and asking that his wife and 
children might retain his lands. 6 Tryon recommended that 
the request be granted. James Pugh, however, died stead- 
fast in his principles. He read the governor a lecture from 
the barrel which served as a scaffold, and was going on to 
speak to Fanning when the barrel was overturned and the 
prisoner was strangled. 7 



1 Colonial Records, VIII, 592, 593. 

2 There had heen several courts-martial for the trial of prisoners. (Cf. 
Colonial Records, VIII, 587, 594, and 598, 599.) 
3 lb., VIII, 635, and IX, 274. 
4 Ib„ VIII, 649-650. 
6 lb., VIII, 650, 712. 

6 Ib, VIII, 650 and 656. The request was granted (lb., IX, 65-66.) 
7 Caruthers's Life of Caldwell, pp. 165, 166. 



206 AMERICAN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION. 

The other incident relates to Thomas Person, whose later 
prominent life demands that his connection with the Regula- 
tors be more fully stated. Just what this relation was does 
not appear. He was certainly a Regulator in spirit. He seems 
to have been such a one as Husband, not actively participating 
in the movement, but sympathizing with it and seeking to 
guide it. We usually find his name associated in it with 
Husband's. The two were appointed referees by the Regula- 
tors of Rowan when the officers there agreed to arbitrate, 1 
and they were members of the assembly on behalf of the 
Regulators. Both were persecuted by the assembly, and some 
of the Regulators thought that both were expelled. 2 This 
statement is not true as regards Person. He was arraigned for 
perjury at the instigation of Richard Henderson, before the 
short assembly of 1770, but the matter was not decided. 3 The 
case was revived and the charge of extortion added in the 
assembly of 1771. 4 The matter was referred to a committee, 
which entirely exculpated Person, and declared that the pros- 
ecution was due to envy and malice. 5 The report was ordered 
to be printed, and Henderson was commanded to pay the cost 
of the prosecution, which was £117. 6 This action was taken 
just before adjournment. Tryon said that it was in a thin 
house, and that the verdict would be reversed by the next 
assembly, 7 and it is true that at the next meeting of the 
assembly that part of the above resolution which taxed the 
costs on Henderson was rescinded. 8 .When Tryon was march- 
ing through the country he took Person and carried him a 
prisoner to Hillsboro. Whether he was tried there or not does 
not appear. There is a story 9 to the effect that evidence of 
his guilt was removed through the destruction, either by him- 
self or by Rev. George Micklejohn, of certain papers at his 
house. 10 



1 Colonial Records, VIII, 533. fi lb., VIII, 461, 467. 

2 lb., VIII, 646. 7 lb., VIII, 525. 

3 lb., VIII, 118. 8 lb., IX, 196, 208. 

* lb., VIII, 326, 333. fl lb., VIII, p. xxviii. 

5 lb., VIII, 448, 449. 
10 A letter was published in the Boston Gazette, August 11, 1771, in which 
an unnamed prisoner was said to have been taken to Wilmington and 
there released on bail. Saunders supposed that this prisoner was Person 
(Colonial Records, VIII, pp. xxviii, and 635,636). This is an error. The 
letter itself contains the strongest evidence that the prisoner resided at 
Cross Creek (Fayetteville), and Tryon's letter book makes it certain that 
it was John Wilcox, a merchant of that place. Clb., VIII, 718.) 



REGULATORS OF NORTH CAROLINA BASSETT. 207 

Josiah Martin succeeded Tryon as governor. When be 
arrived in the colony he found that the work of his predeces- 
sor in subduing resistance had been effective. By July 4, 
6,409 persons had taken the oath of allegiance. 1 The com- 
pleteness of the change in Orange is shown by the election of 
1771. John Pryor was dead and Husband was expelled, two 
vacant seats being thus created. To fill these the county 
choose Ealph McKair and Francis Nash, both strong anti- 
Regulators. 2 Most of the outlawed leaders were in hiding, 
some being in South Carolina. 3 Husbai d had fled to Mary- 
land first and then to Pennsylvania. 4 They now begged for 
mercy. Either through friends or in person Jeremiah Field, 5 
Mnian Bell Hamilton, 6 Matthew HamiltonT 5 James Hunter, 8 ^»*^> 
Thomas Welborn, 9 William Butler, 10 and John Fruit^ 11 peti- 
tioned the governor for pardon. Martin was unwilling to act 
on the matter, inasmuch as Tryon had referred the whole affair 
to the Crown. 12 He recommended waiting, although the as- 
sembly had asked for the pardon of all but Husband, Butler, 
and Howell. 13 

In 1772, when the governor made a visit to the back counties, 
the outlawed leaders surrendered themselves, quietly giving 
bond for their future appearance at Hillsboro court. 14 This 
was, perhaps, not as submissive as it may seem. The riot law, 
having been made for one year only, was already expired, and 
it was a question whether or not the defendants could be tried 
under it. Martin called on the chief justice and the associates 
for an opinion on the matter. The consensus of the replies 
was that the defendants could not be treated as outlaws under 
the above act, but that they could be tried under any other 
law, as the law of treason. 15 This discouraged further pros- 
•vecution of the suits, and so far as the courts were concerned 

1 Colonial Records, IX, 9, 78. 

2 lb., IX, 177. Fanning seems to have left the province by this time. 
He went to New York, where he was a Loyalist in the Revolution, and after 
the war removed to British America, where he was much honored as tbe 
governor of Prince Edwards Island. (Cf. Wheeler, II, 331.) 

3 Colonial Records, IX, 20. 10 lb., IX, 99, 100. 

4 lb., IX, 14. " lb., IX, 93. ^ss 

6 lb., IX, 40, 41. i* lb., IX, 57. 

6 lb., IX, 38, 39. ,3 Ib., IX, 169 and 173. 

7 lb., IX, 84. " lb., IX, 313, 314, and 348. 
8 lb., IX, 37, 85, 86. 16 Ib., IX, 333-339. 

s lb., IX, 25-27. 



208 AMERICAN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION. 

the matter stopped there. A general amnesty act by the 
colonial assembly was all that was needed to close up the 
case. The British Government advised such an act, but in 
1773 the provincial upper house rejected it because the pro- 
posed bill did not contain enough exceptions. 1 When the 
Eevolution was beginning the King, as a matter of policy, had 
the governor to issue a proclamation of pardon for all who bad 
been concerned in the Eegulation, with the single exception of 
Husband. 2 

The attempt to secure reform in local government had thus 
failed most signally. The people had now either to submit or 
to move out into the wilderness again. Many of them choose 
the latter alternative. It was just at the time when the tide 
of immigration had broken over the mountains into that fertile 
part of North Carolina which afterwards became Tennessee. 
The hopelessness of their condition was to many a greater 
evil than the dangers of the western forest. Accordingly they 
joined the wagon trains for the west. A number left before 
the battle of Alamance, and many more after it. Morgan 
Edwards visited the country in 1772 and wrote: "It is said 
1,500 departed since the battle of Alamance, and to my knowl- 
edge a great many more are only waiting to dispose of their 
plantations in order to follow them." 3 

The immediate remedial effect of the Regulation was slight, 
although some bills were passed that were in line with the 
purposes of the movement. The offensive county officers re- 
mained and in some cases the Regulators lost the representa- 
tives they had gained. It was abroad that the movement had 
its greatest effect. In Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, where 
the people were on the verge of revolution, lurid pictures 
of the struggle of the oppressed North Carolinians were given 
in the press. 4 For example, the Boston Gazette published the 
judicial sentence, 5 " That you, Benjamin Merrill, 6 be carried 
to the place from whence you came, that you be drawn from 
thence to the place of execution, where you are to be hanged 
by the neck; that you be cut down while yet alive; that your 
bowels be taken out and burnt before your face; that your 
head be cut off; your body be divided into four quarters, and 



1 Colonial Records, IX, 621, 622. * lb., VIII, 635-648. 

2 lb., X, 90 and 405. 5 lb., VIII, 643. 

3 lb., VIII, 655. 6 Ib., X, 90 and 405. 



REGULATORS OF NORTH CAROLINA BASSETT. 209 

this to be at His Majesty's disposal; and the Lord have mercy 
on your soul." l This was but the formal sentence for treason 
and does not indicate any particular cruelty in Tryon's official 
yet it was doubtless published for effect. A short while later 
the same paper said that a certain " glorious triumvirate should 

consist of Bernard, H n, and Tryon." 2 

It has often been thought strange that the Begulators had 
but little to do with the Bevolution. They were mostly Tories. 
Jeremiah Field was in the habit of saying in his old age that he 
had fought twice, once for his country and once for the King, 
and been defeated each time, and that he would fight no more. 3 
This loyalty has usually been attributed to the Begulators' 
idea of the sanctity of au oath. They have been supposed to 
have realized in this the biblical ideal of the man who swears 
to his own hurt and changes not. 4 That the oath of Tryon had 
au influence on their conduct is very likely; but another strong 
influence was their distrust for the men who led the Bevolu- 
tion. The same men who had oppressed thein, whom they had 
tried to turn out of office, whom they had fought, by whom they 
had been defeated, and who still kept the offices through which 
they had received their wrongs — these men no w came to the Beg- 
ulators asking aid in a movement which, to say the least, was 
of doubtful issue. 5 Among those who led the new movement 
only one man could be found who was of note among the 
Begulators; this was Thomas Person, a member of the pro- 
vincial council. Many of the Bevolution ary officers had led 
troops at Alamance. In 1775 two regiments were raised for the 
American service; of the first James Moore was colonel and 
Francis Nash lieutenant-colonel; of the second Bobert Howe 
was colonel and Alexander Martin was lieutenant-colonel. 

1 Colonial Records, VIII, 643. 

2 lb., VIII, 639. 

3 Caruthers's Life of Caldwell, p. 177. 

4 lb., p. 172. 

5 In January, 1776, Governor Martin reported that from 2,000 to 3,000 of the 
Regulators bad given him assurance tbat they were ready to march to the 
aid of the King's Government wherever it was necessary. (Col. Recs., IX, 
1228, and X, 406.) A month later they were preparing to join the governor, 
who was then on a ship at the mouth of the Cape Fear. (lb., X, 452.) A body 
of Regulators and Highlanders was assembled and marched down the 
bank of the river. They were intercepted just before they reached Wil- 
mington, at Moores Creek, and entirely defeated. Among the prisoners 
were several prominent Regulators. (lb., X, 465, and 485, 486.) 
H. Mis. 91 14 



210 AMERICAN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION. 

Iii each superior court district a battalion of militia was 
formed. In Hillsboro district James Tliackston was made 
colouel and John Williams lieutenant-colonel ; while Adlai Os- 
borne was made lieutenant-colonel of the Salisbury district. 
Caswell was colonel of the Newbern district and Edward Vail 
of the Eclenton district. All of these had been prominently 
opposed to the Regulation. In civil affairs it was the same 
story. Samuel Johnston, the author of the riot law, exhibited 
himself at Hillsboro in 1775 as president of the provincial 
congress. This was a remarkable object lesson. 1 In the pro- 
vincial council there were Samuel Johnston, who presided; 
Samuel Ashe, Abner Nash, Samuel Spencer, and Waighstill 
Avery, while William Hooper was a prominent member of 
the provincial congress and a representative of the State in 
the Continental Congress. All these the Regulators were ac- 
customed to look upon as enemies. 2 The entire government 
was in the hands of the officeholding aristocracy of the sev- 
eral counties. For these the mass of the Regulators had little 
sympathy and less confidence, certainly not enough to induce 
them to break an oath which both policy and religious ideas 
prompted them to keep. In view of their past experience 
they doubtless asked themselves what good it would be to 
overthrow the existing government and set up another in 
which Samuel Spencer, James Tliackston, Francis Nash, John 
Williams, Thomas Polk, John Ashe, 3 and Samuel Johnston 
were ruling elements. 4 

Did the Regulation begin the Revolution? Was Alamance 
the first battle of the struggle for American independence 1 ? 

^he Regulators were not indifferent to the sight. It seems that the 
congress actually apprehended violence at their hands. (See Waddell: 
A Colonial Officer, p. 155.) 

2 Wheeler, I, 71-82. 

3 Thomas Polk was a colonel and John Ashe was a brigadier-general. (lb. 
75 and 79. ) 

4 In 1775 William Hooper and his associates in Congress wrote from 
Philadelphia to the provincial council of North Carolina, suggesting that 
two ministers be employed to go among the " Regulators and Highlanders " 
to teach that the cause of the Colonies was the cause of God and to neu- 
tralize, as far as possible, the effects of Tryon's oath. Congress had 
directed that this be done and had offered to pay the expenses. This, 
however, was before the American cause meant an assertion of indepen- 
dence, and Hooper appears to have contemplated only joining the Regu- 
lators with the others in a protest against British misgovernment. (Cf. 
Colonial Records, VIII, p. xxiii.) 



REGULATORS OF NORTH CAROLINA BASSETT. 211 

We ought now to be able to answer this question. This inves- 
tigation leads to the view that the Eegulation could have no 
direct connection with the Eevolution. I can see no conti- 
nuity of influence. The Eegulation did not make the later 
struggle inevitable. If it had never happened, the armies of 
Washington and Clinton, of Greene and Cornwallis, would 
have fought out their battles much the same as they did fight fi^j 
them. As was remarked at the beginning of this paper, the ^^" 
Eegulation was aimed at agents of government ; the Eevolu- 
tion struggled for principles. The one was organized and led 
by men who were almost entirely hostile to the leaders of the 
other. It is true that some Eegulators were in the armies of 
the Eevolution, but the great majority of them were Tories. 

There is a sense, however, in which the Eegulation influ- 
enced the Eevolution. The struggle was a grand object lesson 
to the whole country. It set the people to thinking of armed 
resistance. Failure as it was, it showed how weak the British /5 
army would be in a hostile country. 1 It taught the North *^ 
Carolina troops who served with Tryon to appreciate the feel- 
ings of such an army. The two campaigns of Tryon devel- 
oped the military organization of the province. When the 
Eevolution began, it was only necessary that this organization 
should be put into motion. It was thus that the brilliant lit- 
tle victory at Moores Creek was secured, with the result that 
the most loyal section of the South was kept from joining the 
British and thus opening a way to cut off from the Federation 
the three southernmost colonies. 

History will often be questioned as to the justness of this 
matter. The answer will be chiefly on the side of the Eegula- 
tors. The opinion of Governor Martin is worth quoting. He 
is generally conceded to have been an honest and sensible 
man, although he was, by unfortunate conditions, inevitably 
condemned to defeat. In 1772 he took a journey through the 
back counties, and while at Hillsboro wrote to the British 
Government: "I now see most clearly that [the j)eople] have 
been provoked by insolence and cruel advantage taken of the 
people's ignorance by mercenary, tricking attorneys, clerks, 
and other little officers, who have practiced upon them every 

1 It is worthy of note that when the Revolutionary struggle was about 
to open, Tryon was one of the few British officials in America who warned 
t "'.e Home Government that to reduce the colonies was a serious task. 
(S3e Tudor's Life of Otis, p. 428.) 



212 AMERICAN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION. 

sort of rapine and extortion," and who had enlisted the aid of 
government in order to cover their own transgressions. This 
exasperated the people and u drove them to acts of despera- 
tion and confederated them in violences which, as your lord- 
ship knows, induced bloodshed, and, I verily believe, necessa- 
rily." l Three months later, after he had returned to New- 
bern, he modified his opinion slightly. He then wrote that 
he was fully convinced that the people had been — 

grievously oppressed by the sheriffs, clerks, and other subordinate 
officers of government, and exceedingly moved my compassion; but, on 
the other hand, I can assure your lordship there was not wanting evi- 
dence of most extravagant licentiousness and criminal violences on the 
part of that wretched people, which [being] provoked by the abuse I 
discovered, or by other causes that might be inscrutable to me, seems 
at length to have urged matters to a crisis that necessarily terminated in 
bloodshed. Upon the whole, I am not without hopes, my lord, that the 
vigorous measures taken by my predecessor under those circumstances 
may have a tendency to keep under the disorderly spirit. 2 

This view seems eminently correct, and with it we may rest 
our case. 

1 Colonial Records, IX, 330. 
2 lb., IX, 357-358. 






iS 



1